COLUMBIA, S.C. — In a brief wrap-up session Wednesday, South Carolina lawmakers gave final approval to the state's historic $14 billion budget, which is centered around tax cuts and $1 billion in tax rebates.
"We have transformational changes in this budget, projects in this budget that will mean something to everyone around the state," said Rep. Todd Rutherford (D-Richland).
"Look at this state budget and look at the growth that’s in there. Now 5.2 million people but more importantly, Look at what's going back to the citizens of South Carolina either in infrastructure, in non spent revenue, or in tax reductions and tax rebates," said Rep. Gary Simrill (R-York).
The spending plan, which takes effect July 1, immediately cuts the top income tax rate from 7% to 6.5% and gradually lowers it to 6% over five years.
The $1 billion income tax rebate means taxpayers could get a rebate up to $800 by the end of 2022.
“If you have a tax liability in this state, you would receive a rebate. That rebate is graduated based on your tax liability," said Simrill.
The other tax bracket will be at 3%, cutting taxes for the more than 300,000 taxpayers now between the 6% and 3% brackets. Anyone lower than that will not pay taxes at all.
The budget raises the minimum teacher salary from $36,000 to $40,000. It also gives state employees a 3% raise and a $1,500 bonus. Several state law enforcement agencies will also receive a pay raise under the plan.
"It’s hard to think of anything we didn't get in the budget. Most of it was in there," said Rutherford.
Lawmakers want to spend $1 billion on accelerating road repairs and expansions as well.
"We did a lot of good things in this budget including widening highways, to make sure people can travel safely especially from here to Charleston," said Rutherford.
Additionally, the budget gives state colleges money if they freeze tuition and creates a $1 billion dollar reserve in case the economy falters.
"We never to have a rescission bill here if we can have it. So having more reserves is better," said Simrill.
The budget now heads to Governor Henry McMaster's desk for approval.