The state House zipped through the approximately $750 million budget Monday and Tuesday, passing it easily.
Here are three takeaways from that process—
The process was a cinch
House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Brian White said Wednesday that many people had told him how seamless the budgeting process had been. The Anderson Republican gave credit to the chairman of the subcommittees for their budget work.
The budget sailed through the chamber this week, passing 111 to 1 just before midnight. Rep. Jonathon Hill, R-Anderson, gave the lone dissenting vote on the bill.
“The budget process might be transparent, in theory, but unless you are in leadership you don’t have much say over what goes into it. It is very much a top-down process,” wrote Hill on Facebook Tuesday.
The roads funding portion reflects a roads fix tug-of-war in the Statehouse
The House included in its budget $415 million, reserved for the Transportation Department and county governments for road maintenance and construction.
Republican Gov. Nikki Haley praised the House for funding roads at a Wednesday news conference, but urged members to concur with the portion of a Senate roads plan to reform the SCDOT commission.
“The money doesn’t mean anything if we don’t reform the agency,” she said.
That reform, she said, should either allow the governor to appoint commissioners or make the SCDOT into a cabinet agency.
Currently SCDOT commissioners are elected by legislative delegations within each Congressional district, enabling what Haley called political horse-trading.
House leadership decried the Senate plan as irresponsible earlier in March. That plan would reform the SCDOT and the controversial State Infrastructure Bank, and would set aside $400 million annually for roads.
Senate Republicans, in turn, criticized a gas tax plan by the House after the Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Office’s revised estimates showed that plan could garner far less than the $427 million initially expected.
The House is expected to take up the Senate proposal after returning from furlough on April 12.
The House approved spending large sums of money without any debate
The House on Monday took up sections that lacked amendments, and without any debate, approved almost every section.
Funding for the Retirement System Investment Commission was an exception. House members rejected that section, which would have given the agency $17 million, by a vote of 53-51.
Notable budget increases, compared to the previous fiscal year, include—
-Members voted 83 to 4 to send to the Department of Health and Human Services approximately $133 million more in general fund money.
-Lawmakers voted 82 to 20 to increase total funds to the Infrastructure Bank Board by $15 million.
-The Department of Health and Environmental Control is set to receive $13.8 million more in general funds. House members voted 79 to 0 to approve the funding.
-The House voted 98 to 0 to give the Department of Mental Health a $25 million increase in total funds, including an $11 million increase in general funds.
The budget is now before the Senate Finance Committee.