State budget update


The South Carolina House and Senate budget negotiators agreed Tuesday to phase in a tax cut for small business owners over a three year period, ending a stalemate that has delayed a final version of the State budget. House and Senate budget committees are expected to have final details worked out Wednesday and are expected to present a budget to Governor Nikki Haley by Thursday.

They will also present a resolution to continue funding state government at current levels until the budget is passed.

Gov. Haley has five days to look over the budget and present her vetoes.

The current $6.7 billion budget includes a 3 percent pay raise for most state employees, $33 million in long-deferred maintenance at public colleges statewide, and approximately $20 million for a Commerce fund for infrastructure to help with economic development.

It also adds state law enforcement officers and gives them a 5 percent pay raise. School teachers will see a 2 percent pay raise.

The current version of the budget includes $300 million for the Charleston harbor dredging project, including a reserve of $120 million to cover the federal government’s share if necessary.

The budget provides $36 million for special needs students to cover a reduction in federal funds resulting from a penalty on the state for not spending enough on disabled students during the economic downturn.

Phase two of the State Farmers Market is budgeted $50,000 to pay for an appraisal of property that the Agriculture Department wants to purchase. The agency had sought $16 million for the project.

The tax cut agreement for small businesses amounts to $20 million in tax relief yearly, eventually reaching $60 million over a three year period.

Small business owners who report their earnings as personal income would see their tax rate reduced from 5 percent to 3 percent.