McMaster unveils his $10B state budget

Updated: Jan. 8, 2021 at 6:47 PM EST
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCSC/AP) - South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster released his Executive Budget Friday at the Statehouse Friday.

McMaster’s roughly $10 billion budget wouldn’t cut state agency dollars. His plan puts a big focus on education and workforce training, and McMaster says his budget will stock the state with skilled workers.

The governor wants to provide financial aid for every student who qualifies for federal need-based aid, more money for scholarships and grants at technical colleges, and extra funding for charter schools to help with extra enrollment because of COVID-19. All of that, he says, will help fill the thousands of jobs that have come to our state over the past decade.

“Today, South Carolina is in a stronger financial position than virtually every other state in the country,” he said. “And that is because we were thinking ahead. We were being smart we’re being careful, we’re being cautious. And now we must continue to think ahead.”

He said his executive budget places $400 million of new money forecasts project will come in, or about 38 cents of every dollar, into the state’s rainy day reserve fund.

“Why? Because we must be prepared for any future economic uncertainties, should they occur. The pandemic is still here,” he said. “We don’t know what is going to happen. We know we’re making great steps, but we cannot see the future clearly and we must be careful as we have been in the past.”

McMaster said the state would set aside $525 million it recently received in a Savannah River Site lawsuit settlement with the federal government. He said those funds should be handled not in the budget but in a standalone bill that would allow for “thoughtful consideration and appropriate public scrutiny.”

His plan includes $123 million in grants for small businesses hit with revenue losses during the pandemic and $30 billion to expand broadband across across the state.

The governor also plans to set aside $29 million for every school in the state to have a school nurse, school resource officer, and a mental health counselor.

Copyright 2021 WCSC. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved.