It was another busy week at the State House with a lot of behind-the-scenes work as we debated in committees the state budget, Santee Cooper, education, opioid abuse, and a host of other important issues.

The House Ways and Means Committee passed a proposed budget out of committee, which mirrored Gov. McMaster’s priorities.

Here are some of the budget highlights:

*$128 million will be refunded directly to taxpayers with an income tax credit

*Funds to bring the total reserve fund to almost $800 million in case of recession or natural disaster

*$120 million devoted to lowering the income tax rate below 7%

*$213 million for an across-the-board pay raise for teachers, ranking SC in top 25 for teacher pay

*$40 million to provide merit pay raises for state employees

*$165 million to ensure college tuition rates are frozen so that college is more affordable for in-state students

The full House will take up the budget the week of March 9th.

The Labor, Commerce and Industry Committee unanimously passed the business license reform bill, H. 4431, I cosponsored that streamlines the process of obtaining business licenses from all the jurisdictions that require them.

The bill establishes a standard application and renewal date, and a single website for payments.

I was pleased to meet with Georgetown County Probate Judge Leigh Powers Boan at the State House where we had an opportunity to talk about issues affecting the court. I’m proud that Leigh has been elected president of the S.C. Association of Probate Judges in just her first term in office.

Next week promises to be very busy with more committee meetings, including House Ways and Means Committee hearings on what to do with debt-ridden state-owned utility Santee Cooper.

It’s an honor to represent District 108 in the House of Representatives! Please let me know if I can be of assistance.

Rep. Lee Hewitt

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