The House officially began the second session of the 123rd South Carolina General Assembly this week and I’m very excited to get back to work on our conservative. By the time you read this, Governor McMaster will have released an overview of his budget priorities where he shared his entire plan during his annual State of the State address. The Governor spoke about continuing the efforts we started last year to reform education and cut taxes.  His plan will also include his ideas on using a portion of this year’s budget surplus to send back to hardworking taxpayers. I am confident that the House and the Governor will work together this session and I look forward to another great session at the State House.

Nathan Ballentine
Nathan Ballentine SC House of Representatives Richland and Lexington Counties (803) 734-2969 www.nathansnews.com

Representative Huggins and I again serve on the House Ways and Means Committee, so we will push for many budget items we have heard from you over the summer and fall when we learned there will be $1 BILLION in non recurring revenue and $800 MILLION in recurring.  Thank you to those who stay informed at www.nathansnews.com and sent me your suggestions! 

In 2018, 186,500 people moved to South Carolina in one year. People are flocking to South Carolina because of our great business climate, and low tax rates. In order for South Carolina to continue to prosper there are important reforms and legislation that need to be passed this year.  

Education

This summer members of the SC House traveled the state to talk with teachers about their concerns, ideas, and solutions for education reform. In total, we talked with more than 60 Teachers of the Year and have taken many of their ideas into consideration this year. Many of us are also joining the Governor in proposing a $3,000 across the board pay increase (7% pay raise) for teachers. We need to make a substantial investment in teacher salaries – and finally reaching our goal of bringing SC teacher salaries above the southeastern average.

Bolstering our reserves

Our reserve funds (currently $614 million) need to be higher because sooner or later, a recession will occur. I’m glad to report it appears the House will bolster this amount to around $1 billion.  Almost doubling what took 10 years to build, in just one year (see www.nathansnews.com for more on this).

Taxes

The reason we ended fiscal year 2019 with a $1.8 billion surplus is because South Carolinians are successful. This amount of money is made up primarily of 2 consecutive fiscal cycles where the state did not spend all of the money it had available and an economy that continues to be stronger than expected. We’ve never had more people living and working in SC, more individuals who are being successful in their jobs, and more companies earning and paying more to their employees. It’s our job to be good fiscal stewards to send some of this money back to the taxpayer so they can continue investing in our economy. While I know the $50 rebate check appears gimmicky, return your dollars instead of just “spending to spend” is a better alternative. Frankly, we need to change the tax structure in the state so that YOU keep that money (and more) instead of us sending back.

Santee Cooper 

We will soon receive information regarding the bids and the recommendations from the Dept. of Administration regarding Santee Cooper. The entire House are dedicated to working with the Governor to ensure we get the best deal for ratepayers and taxpayers. I was pleased to work with members of the SC Energy Caucus to pass a resolution calling for 100% clean energy from Santee Cooper over the next 30 years.

In our first week back, most work is being done in committees. However, the House did pass legislation that would make Daylight Savings Time permanent (if Congress passes their version of the bill) and strengthen human trafficking laws in the state, 

Closer to home it’s good to see the community work together regarding safety concerns for not only the Heritage at Lowman Home but the surrounding neighborhoods. Approximately 100 residents near Johnson Marina Road gathered together this week to discuss safety options and alternatives to the closure of two roads in our area.

Every week, you’ll see this column from either Representative Huggins or me so that we can keep the Irmo/Chapin community informed.  Anytime you’d like to speak with me, please call my office at 734-2969. I have a new legislative aide (June Cornelius) who can assist or get your message to me if I’m on the House Floor or in committee hearings.  As always, you should visit www.nathansnews.com regularly for updates of what’s going on around the State House or our community and, if you aren’t receiving a monthly COMMUNITY UPDATE email from me, please let me know to add you to the distribution list by emailing me at [email protected].

Thank you for the honor to continue to represent you in Columbia and to continue to keep it about People, Not Politics!