Last week the work of the SC House was all about the state budget! We passed a $13.8 billion budget, which now goes to the Senate for consideration. We were able to address priorities in this budget that are important to District 97.

My goals for the 2023-2024 budget were like the issues I addressed in my campaigns. I wanted to vote for a budget that reduced taxes, invested in our roads and bridges, and increased our pay for teachers and law enforcement to ensure we are retaining top-quality talent.

I am pleased to report that we were able to accomplish these objectives.

Road Funding

The SC House has allocated $450 million in non-recurring funds to fix roads and bridges as well as fund new roads, new bridges, and to invest in solutions to combat traffic congestion. This budget provides for:

  • $250 million in local and secondary road projects
  • Accelerating the repair or replacement of bridges
  • $7 million to the Rural Infrastructure Authority to improve public water and sewer utilities

Law Enforcement Salaries

As a former solicitor, I know how vital our law enforcement officers are to the safety of our citizens. We need to ensure they have the training and resources needed to keep our families and neighborhoods safe. Additionally, we need to ensure our schools stay staffed with a school resource officer.

The SC House budget does the following:

  • Raises new base salaries to $50,000 for law enforcement officers
  • Funds the hiring of an additional 188 School Resources Officers
  • Funds the hands-on training for School Resources Officers at the newly funded Center for School Safety and Targeted Violence

Invests in Teachers and Schools

Teachers prepare our next generation, which is why we are increasing starting and existing salaries. Additionally, we are making investments in our school systems to ease some of the concerns regarding student safety and achievement.

This budget provides for:

  • Teacher Pay increases of $2,500
  • Funds to purchase school buses and hire more school bus drivers
  • $20 million towards school safety upgrades
  • There will be a school resource officer in EVERY South Carolina public school
  • Additional funds for tutoring programs to help close learning gaps

Additionally, in higher education, we are freezing tuition and fully funding scholarships to help those who choose to extend their education.

Invest in the Healthcare of South Carolinians

Currently, there are many gaps in services available to South Carolinians which is why we are investing more than $300 million in healthcare. I hope to address our behavioral health crisis and support our healthcare workers who take care of so many South Carolinians. This budget provides for:

  • Increased compensation for nursing and mental health professionals
  • Strengthening the State‚Äôs response to calls, texts and messages received for suicide prevention
  • Increase access to mental and behavioral-health related services
  • Assist the Department of Mental Health in its maintenance of long-term care/nursing homes for veterans

Scout Motors Chooses South Carolina

Beyond the state budget, we also tackled the biggest economic win for our state. The House passed an economic package to attract Scout Motors, a Volkswagen company, to build their first manufacturing plant right here in South Carolina.

Passing this legislation will ensure the site, infrastructure, and workforce are ready for Scout Motors in 2026 when production is expected to begin. The manufacturing plant will build all-electric, next generation trucks and rugged SUVs harkening back to the iconic Scout vehicles produced from 1960-1980.

These incentives are actually investments in infrastructure that will be long-lasting for our state. These are not handouts to corporations, but rather investments in our state and our people.

In all, Scout Motors plans to invest $4 billion in its Richland County plant and will create 8,000 jobs over the course of 2 phases of its build-out. An economic impact study was performed for the state by the University of South Carolina which estimates that Scout Motors will have a $15.3 billion economic impact by 2029.

South Carolina will invest $1.291 billion for the following:

  • Construction of a new I-77 interchange, a railroad bridge over I-77, water and wastewater infrastructure, and mass grading and wetlands mitigation
  • Acquisition of property to connect to the Class I rail mainline
  • Building of a training center publicly owned by Midlands Technical College to train South Carolinians for employment with Scout Motors

Here is a map of the location of the Scout Motors plant on I-77 near Columbia.

It is my honor to represent you. Feel free to contact me at RobertRobbins@schouse.gov or 803-212-6973.