COLUMBIA, S.C. – Governor Henry McMaster today announced his Fiscal Year 2023-2024 Executive Budget. As it has in past years the governor's budget prioritizes fiscal responsibility and wise, transformative investments in education, infrastructure, public safety, and provides tax relief for South Carolinians.
"We are presented with an opportunity to take bold, transformative actions that will help expedite prosperity for generations of our people to come," Governor McMaster wrote in a letter to the General Assembly. "By thinking big, by being bold and by making these transformative investments that I have proposed, I believe we will set our State on a course that will provide the opportunity for prosperity, success, and happiness for generations of South Carolinians."
For a copy of the governor's executive budget, along with his letter to the General Assembly and a detailed explanation of each allocation, click here. For a copy of a presentation outlining the governor's priorities, click here.
Executive Budget Highlights:
$500 million for rainy day fund
"I ask the General Assembly to set aside an additional $500 million to voluntarily increase the rainy-day reserve fund minimum balance from 7% to 10%. By saving this money instead of spending it - something that served our state well during the recent pandemic - we will once again be prepared for any future economic uncertainties, should they arise."
$500 million for SCDOT (non-recurring). $300 million for I-73 Phase 1, $50 million for SCDOT (recurring)
"The Department of Transportation (SCDOT) was allocated almost $1 billion last year to accelerate and jump start construction, expansion, or improvements to our State-owned roads, bridges, highways, and to widen interstates. This year, my Executive Budget provides an additional $850 million to expedite the start and completion of SCDOT projects that will relieve traffic congestion, repair, or replace over 400 bridges, and to enhance repaving and resurfacing on our local and secondary roads."
$500 million for Economic Development Commitments and $200 million for Megasite Development and Acquisition
"In addition, I recommend setting aside a significant amount of funds to re-invest in our state’s record-breaking economic development efforts, rather than borrowing it through the issuance of bonds. A one-time appropriation of $500 million will allow the Department of Commerce to satisfy all outstanding obligations and incentives without borrowing money. An additional one-time appropriation of $200 million will allow the department to identify and secure properties for future mega-site development."
$380 Rural Water and Sewer
"In 2022, the state Rural Infrastructure Authority (RIA) received $800 million in ARPA funds to replace, repair, and consolidate our state's aging and outdated rural water, sewer, and stormwater infrastructure, through competitive grants. Demand exceeded supply, and RIA received grant applications in 2022 for almost $2 billion. I am recommending the General Assembly appropriate $380 million in remaining ARPA funds to RIA so that they may continue awarding these transformative grants."
$266 million for Conservation & Environment
"I am recommending that a total $266 million be appropriated to the Conservation Land Bank, the Department of Natural Resources, and the Office of Resilience, for the purpose of identifying and preserving culturally or environmentally significant properties and tracts in which public access is in jeopardy of being lost forever due to development, mismanagement, flooding, erosion or from storm damage."
$254 million for State Aid to Classrooms
"My Executive Budget proposes increasing teacher salaries by $2,500 at every step of the state salary schedule, making the new minimum starting teacher salary $42,500. My goal by 2026 is a minimum starting salary of at least $50,000.
In addition, my Executive Budget provides every eligible public-school teacher for school year 2023-2024 with a $2,500 retention supplement, half in December and the other half in May.
Until last year, South Carolina’s system for funding K-12 education was archaic and confusing, a piecemeal system consisting of 29 separate line-item appropriations. Now, a consolidated formula makes sure that funding follows the child. It keeps pace with student enrollments and provides financial resources to support a state average student-teacher ratio of 11.2 students per teacher with an average teacher salary including fringe benefits of $72,991. This Executive Budget also increases State Aid to Classrooms by $254 million."
$132.5 million for Teacher Retention Bonus
"In addition, my Executive Budget provides every eligible public-school teacher for school year 2023-2024 with a $2,500 retention supplement, half in December and the other half in May."
$121.5 million for the State Health Plan and Free OBGYN Visit
"I am also recommending there be no increase in premiums for State Health Plan participants and that we add an annual OBGYN exam for all females covered by the State Health Plan at no additional cost, similar to the existing no-cost adult wellness visit that was added two years ago."
$100 million for Need-based and Tuition Grants
"Also, I propose providing $80 million so that every South Carolinian who qualifies for federal need-based financial aid - as measured by federal Pell Grants - has sufficient state financial assistance to attend any in-state public college, university, or technical college. Students at private, independent, and historically black colleges and universities will receive an additional $20 million for tuition grants and assistance."
$87 million Income Tax Cut
"Until recently, South Carolina had the highest personal income tax rate in the southeast and the 12th highest in the nation. No more. Last year, I was honored to sign into law the largest income tax cut in state history and, as such, my executive budget recognizes this year’s $87.5 million scheduled cut to the income tax rate."
$78 million for Workforce Scholarships for the Future
"To address the historic labor crisis affecting key sectors of South Carolina’s economy, I am requesting that the General Assembly invest an additional $78 million in lottery funds to expand Workforce Scholarships for the Future through the South Carolina Technical College System."
$78 million for State Employee Pay Raises
"Our booming economy sometimes puts state agencies at a disadvantage with the private sector – when they are recruiting employees or trying to retain good employees. My Executive Budget provides $78 million for recruitment and retention salary increases for state employees; $2 million for a one-time $2,500 sign on bonus for new first time state government hires; and $2 million to the Department of Administration to assist state agencies with marketing and advertising for hard to fill positions."
$45 million for Mental Health Professionals and services
"It’s been very clear that a mental health crisis exists in South Carolina following the COVID-19 pandemic. To meet the growing demand for mental and behavioral health services, I am recommending an allocation of nearly $45 million to the Department of Mental Health. These funds will support the agency’s ability to recruit and retain mental health professionals, provide inpatient services, increase access to crisis continuum of care services such as suicide prevention hotlines including one specifically for veterans, and community-based treatment services."
$43 million for Tuition Freeze
"This Executive Budget marks the fourth consecutive year that I have proposed the General Assembly freeze college tuition for in-state students, with an appropriation to our institutions of higher education of $43 million. This represents the 5.2% increase in the Higher Education Price Index (HEPI) for 2022 and is based on the number of in-state students enrolled at each public institution."
$38.4 million for First Responders Income Tax Credit
"I am also proposing a $2,000 state income tax credit for every active-duty law enforcement officer, firefighter, first responder, and emergency medical technician employed by a public entity. This nonrefundable tax credit will provide a total of $38.4 million in income tax relief for those who put their lives on the line each day to protect and serve the public."
$27.3 million for School Resource Officers
"Placing an armed, certified school resource officer (SRO) in every school, in every county, all day, every day, has been one of my top priorities as governor. At my request, the General Assembly began funding a grant program administered by the Department of Public Safety, to provide school districts with funds to hire more resource officers for our state’s 1,283 public schools. The grant program has been very successful and has more than doubled the number of officers assigned to a school, going from 406 in 2018 to 982 in 2022. I am recommending an additional $27.3 million appropriation for the SRO grant program in FY 2023-24. This will add an officer in 188 schools currently without an assigned SRO."
$25 million for Education Scholarship Accounts
"In addition, this Executive Budget provides $25 million in lottery dollars for the creation of education scholarship accounts (ESAs), pending a change in the law by the General Assembly. These funds will allow low-income parents to choose the type of education environment and instruction that best suits their child’s unique needs."
$21.5 million for Law Enforcement Pay Raises
"Thanks to the comprehensive compensation review conducted by the Department of Administration, our state law enforcement and criminal justice agencies have begun to stem the tide of personnel loss with $40 million in recruitment and retention pay raises provided in last year’s General Appropriations Act. I am proposing that we build on this momentum, by providing an additional $21.5 million for recruitment and retention pay raises in FY 23-24."
$5 million for Health Agencies' Restructuring Study and Plan
"My Executive Budget includes a $5 million appropriation to the Department of Administration for the purpose of procuring the professional expertise necessary to analyze and provide the General Assembly, by June 30, 2024, with a comprehensive plan to restructure services provided by the Department of Mental Health, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Health and Environmental Control, among others."
$3.5 million for New Training Center at SLED
"To train our state’s SROs, I recommend providing the State Law Enforcement Division with $3.5 million to create the Center for School Safety and Targeted Violence. Located at the old Gilbert Elementary School, this partnership with Lexington School District One will provide a state-of-the-art training center for law enforcement and school personnel from around the state."