Earlier this month, the S.C. House of Representatives passed our version of the fiscal year 2024-2025 state budget (H.5100). South Carolina’s fiscal year begins July 1 and ends June 30, so we work through the Spring on a budget for passage by July 1. The budget starts in the S.C. House of Representatives and works its way through the subcommittee and the committee process until it reaches the House floor. The budget then moves to the Senate for consideration.

I have been a proponent of using the budget to accomplish my three highest priorities: tax relief for South Carolinians, investment in our state’s roads and bridges, and improving the quality of our children’s education. This year, we were able to move all three priorities.

Tax Relief for Everyone

We were able to cut income taxes by an additional $100 million. What that means in real terms is that the new top tax rate for income in South Carolina is now 6.3%. While the “top tax rate” may sound high, this is the rate on all income you make more than $16,679, which is the amount where our income tax bracket tops out. Just a few years ago, the tax rate was 7%.

I still believe we can get 0% – an elimination of the personal income tax in South Carolina. I raised this in my first campaign for the State House, dubbing it my Project 0.

Additionally, we allocated $500 million for property tax relief. This money comes from the surplus of where South Carolina added a 1% sales tax in place of school operating taxes on owner-occupied homes back in 2006. We are legally obligated to use this surplus for tax relief. If this stays as is in the budget, homeowners will see a credit on their property tax bill reflecting this tax break.

Investment in Bridges

We added more than $200 million in investment in our infrastructure this year, specifically targeting bridge improvements. We have needs across the Lowcountry of bridges that need replacement in terms of use and safety – and this money is in addition to the money annually spent on our bridge replacement program to get more projects done quicker.

Improving Our Children’s Education

We raised teacher pay by $4,500 per teacher as we allocated an additional $230 million into teacher pay to have them all see increases in the coming year. This brings the starting teacher salary to $47,000. We also added $40 million for classroom materials, $35 million for school buses, and $20 million for school safety enhancements that reflect our dedication to fostering a safe and enriching learning environment for all students.

Holding the Line on Tuition Increases

We invested more in higher education making investments to freeze in-state tuition at its current prices for public colleges and universities. We have done this on all three House budgets I have voted on. We bolstered our scholarship programs and need-based grants dedicated to ensuring the tuition freezes and allocating more than $336 million to scholarships.

Promoting Our Heroes

Veterans and first responders hold a special place in this budget, with over $85 million dedicated to healthcare improvements and facilities to honor their service. Additionally, strategic funding has been allocated to bolster law enforcement capabilities, ensuring the safety of our communities. This includes continued investment in raising the salaries of state officers, and encouraging local departments to increase their compensation, thus benefiting law enforcement across the board.

The budget is fully transparent to you. You find it online HERE and follow it every step of the approval process.