Bond bill to fund MUSC Children's Hospital, other projects cut from larger budget proposal

COLUMBIA, SC (WCSC/WIS) - A Senate bill which would fund projects like the Medical University of South Carolina's Children's Hospital is flatlining, according to lawmakers who called the bill a tough sell.

That bond bill would borrow almost $237 million dollars for those projects, which also included $15 million for the state's National Guard Armories, and millions for education projects.

The Senate voted Tuesday to remove the bond bill from a larger budget proposal, called the Capital Reserve Fund.

The borrowing plan isn't dead, but lawmakers say it's going to be tough to bring it up again.

The bond bill was tried in both the House and the Senate, and mainly focuses on repair or construction projects for higher education, like creating an aviation tech program at Trident Tech in Charleston or repairing South Carolina State University's aging boilers.

Late Tuesday, MUSC issued a statement in response to the move.

“It is disappointing that the bond bill, which would have allotted $20 million to the new children's hospital and women's pavilion and had a significant positive impact on higher education infrastructure, never made it to the floor for a vote," MUSC spokesperson Heather Woolwine said. "A procedural issue may have caused its demise. We remain confident, however, that our legislative leadership will find another way to support this important statewide resource.”

The problem is all this money is borrowed with interest. Gov. Nikki Haley and other lawmakers have said before borrowing money would raise the state's debt.

"The bond portion is dead as far as being part of the capital reserve fund," Edgefield Sen. Shane Massey said. "I'm hearing discussions that they may try to revive it independently, but the bond bill in any form is going to be a tough sell this year."

Just because the bond bill died doesn't mean some of those construction projects won't still get funding.

The House and the Senate still have to hammer out a final version of the budget and when the bond bill died in the House, they did add $25 million dollars for the MUSC Children's Hospital to another section, using money the state already had.

There's also a line in the Capital Reserve bill, the section which did pass Tuesday, for the Children's hospital, but it doesn't specify a dollar amount.

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