We had an historic moment at the State House last week.
The House and Senate passed a bill (H. 3360) that will actually contribute $150 million this year to improving our roads and bridges. Some of this money can be used to leverage other funds and bonds and could grow to over $500 million.
This is how it breaks down.
Funding available over the next 10 years will come from these sources: Bonds = $500 million; Sales Tax on Vehicles = $420 million; and, Non-Recurring State plus Federal Funds for Bridges = $250 million, for an anticipated total of $1.17 billion.
The infrastructure funding components have several requirements.
The Dept. of Transportation will transfer annually $50 million to the SC Transportation Infrastructure Bank (SIB) to be used to finance bridge replacement, rehabilitation projects, and expansion and improvements to existing mainline interstates. This money may not be used for projects approved prior to July 1, 2013.
All projects must be approved prior to financing. Approximately $500 million in bonds may be issued.
H. 3360 will redirect 50 percent of the General Fund portion of the sales tax on motor vehicles to the State Non-Federal Aid Highway Fund.
Funds must be used exclusively for highway, road, and bridge maintenance, construction and repair.
For the next fiscal year, this bill provides DOT with a one-time appropriation of up to $50 million from FY 2012-2013 surplus revenue, which must be used solely for bridge replacement and rehabilitation.
Funds must be used as match for federal-aid-eligible bridge projects. At a five-to-one match, $50 million will generate $250 million in total funds.
Some of these funds are recurring and some are non-recurring. While we realize this seems to be a large source of funding for South Carolina's infrastructure, it is in no way sufficient to cover the need but it is a good start. Over the next 10 years, we should be making substantial progress in reducing our infrastructure problems.
In education we increased the base student cost by $77 million. We also increased funding for instructional materials by over $24 million.
In the area of cyber security, we set aside $10 million to procure an additional term of consumer protection services for those citizens affected by the Dept. of Revenue data breach, $10.6 million to begin updating our statewide information security infrastructure, and a tax deduction for our citizens to purchase consumer protection services and identity theft resolutions sevices.
To continue in our efforts to create jobs in South Carolina and to entice industry to locate here, we increased our worker training program called ReadySC by $7.5 million. ReadySC is a program in the technical colleges to train workers for new industry locating in South Carolina.
Trident Technical College began training new employees through this program for Boeing prior to the opening of the new facility.
In the area of law enforcement, the Legislature approved $90,000 for 18 new Dept. of Natural Resources officers and $1.3 million for 30 new troopers.
This year's budget is actually down 3.63 percent from last year, driven by over 12 percent reduction in federal funding.
The reduction is an accounting adjustment that recognized that the federal government manages the federal Food Stamp program, not the state. There was no actual reduction in a Food Stamp recipients’ funding.
My explanation is by no means the total budget. If you have a specific question about a part of the budget, please don't hesitate to contact me.
As always, thank you for the privilege of serving you in Columbia. If I can ever be of assistance to you, or if you have ideas on issues you want me to share with the rest of the General Assembly, please don’t hesitate to contact me at 553-9288 or at the State House (803) 734-2951 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.