Columbia, SC (WLTX) - When the clock struck 5 pm, the South Carolina General Assembly was officially done with the legislative session. Known as Sine Die, the last day of the session gave lawmakers a chance to reflect on what they’ve accomplished this year.
"I'm excited it's been a good year,” says House Speaker Jay Lucas, R-Darlington. "When you look back over the last four months and you see we were able to pass a comprehensive roads bill in year one of a legislative session, that's certainly an outstanding accomplishment."
They are now waiting on a budget conference committee to finish ironing out details.
"The beginning of the new fiscal year for South Carolina is July 1,” says Representative Gary Simrill, House Majority Leader. “It gives us an expanded time to get that done. I would expect that we would have a budget back in the next three to five days."
The passage of the roads and pension bills stood out to lawmakers as accomplishments this year, but they say there's more work to be done, especially in education.
"We still have to deal with what I consider to be an educational crisis,” says Senator Ronnie Sabb, D-Williamsburg. “When we look at what happened with our buses this year, in terms of the fires that took pace. We're just fortunate that we didn't have a loss of life, but I think those are issues that we have to tackle."
"We've got some awesome students and some terrific teachers,” says Sen. Shane Massey, Senate Majority Leader. “We also have some school districts that are struggling. We have to figure out better ways to help them. The easy answer is to just throw more money at it. It may be that some of these areas need more money, but we have to do a better analysis to figure out what the real problems are."
"Our children are our future and we can't do anything unless we're educating them the way we need to,” says Rep. Todd Rutherford, House Minority Leader. “We can't do it without money. We've got these school districts in South Carolina that simply don't have any. They can't build new buildings and they're unable to do so because they don't have the money. We've got to figure out how to do a better job of educating the children of South Carolina. "
While that's a look ahead towards the future, lawmakers say they are pleased with the work done in this session.
Lawmakers are expected to return on May 23rd to vote on the budget conference committee report.