Senator Elliott Discusses State Budget

South Carolina Senate Finance Committee passed out the fiscal year 2011-2012 state budget on Thursday. Senator Dick Elliott released the following statement and summary of budget items affecting the state and Horry, Dillon, Marion and Marlboro Counties:
“Given our tight state budget, officials in Columbia need to use tax dollars wisely and support programs that will maximize the return on our investments. I believe the budget that passed Senate Finance Committee makes these critical investments in government’s core functions.”
“As a member of the Finance Committee, I have the opportunity to ensure our communities’ voices are heard and our area’s share of tax dollars are used effectively.”- Sen. Dick Elliott.

SC Senate Finance Committee Budget Summary:
Proposed $5.4 billion budget passed by Senate Finance is $350 million above the last year’s level of appropriation indicating we are beginning economic recovery.
The additional funds are targeted at protecting the General Assembly’s priorities of education, health care and public safety.
Senate Finance version funds the Base Student Cost at $1,788 per pupil state funding, which is $178 above the current level of $1,610, with $20 million designated to protect districts who would have lost funding compared to current year. As passed, Horry County will receive an estimated additional $8 million above the current year’s level of appropriation for the Education Finance Act for K through 12 (provides core classroom instruction).
-Restores funding for guidance & career counselors in schools which were reduced by the House version.
-Provides a new $25 million in recurring funds for charter schools.
-Directs $45 million more than funded in the current year to school districts to specifically address educational needs of students with disabilities. This is estimated at $2.8 million for Horry County schools.
-Provides $435 million for the Medicaid program to maintain coverage for recipients, directing a portion of the funds from the cigarette tax to ensure access to care for recipients in the rural areas of the state.
– Since the Little River Welcome Center is extremely important to the tourism industry along the coast, the Senate Finance Committee insured that Parks Recreation and Tourism cannot close it or eliminate any full time employees associated with the welcome center.
– Funded SC Tourism Promotion at $10 million and also funded the Regional Tourism Promotion $100,00
– Funded an additional $2 million dollars to SLED in order to upgrade the Date Master.
– The Senate Finance Committee funded the Department of Public Safety an additional $1,622,925 for illegal immigration enforcement and capital complex security.
– The Department of Corrections agency base adjustment was funded an additional $5 million, it would also give through Proviso 51.31 $1.5 million for cell phone interdiction, and in addition Senate Finance funded $500,000 for safety equipment and $6,811,150 for Youth Offenders Act intensive supervision. Overall the Department of Corrections received an additional $13,811,150.
– The Department of Probation Pardon and Parole was funded an additional $1,242,550 in order to meet the requirements set forth in the Sentencing Reform bill.

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