Education and the budget

Last week the House of Representatives was focused on education reform and preparation for the upcoming budget bill debate.

The bipartisan comprehensive education reform bill, the S.C. Education, Career, Opportunity, and Access for All Act, passed the House on Wednesday by a vote of 113-4. As a cosponsor, I’m proud of all of the people who contributed, provided input and made this piece of legislation into a true reform bill.

The bill increases teacher pay, eliminates several mandatory tests, strengthens the ‘Read to Succeed’ program, requires school district consolidation for districts with fewer than 1,000 students, requires school board adoption of ethics policies and training, and gives teachers daily, 30-minute planning periods, among other important reforms.

Today the House will meet to start debating the 2019-2020 budget and continue through the week. In addition to efficiently funding the normal core functions of government, this year we are making substantive investments in education (the education reform bill must be funded) and workforce development. We have prioritized public and higher education in the budget not only because we owe it to our students, but also to ensure our students are better prepared for the workforce.

The budget does not increase taxes and in fact offers tax relief in the form of a tax rebate from the budget surplus.

I’ve cosponsored a bipartisan bill, H. 3145, to provide oversight of the 20 electric cooperatives in the state to protect ratepayers after the recent Tri-County Electric Cooperative scandal in which the nine part-time directors paid themselves $52,000 a year each, plus expensive benefits and inappropriate perks – all at the expense of ratepayers.

The bill allows the S.C. Office of Regulatory Staff, a utility watchdog, to audit the electric cooperatives’ compliance with state law, particularly in spending ratepayers’ money.

And finally, I hope you’ll visit the “Important Links” page on my website by clicking here. There you can find important links to state and local government, which I hope you’ll find helpful.

As always, please let me know if I can be of any assistance.

Rep. Lee Hewitt

Please click here to donate to my reelection campaign.