Editor's Note: This is part one in a two part series on the upcoming fiscal year. Tomorrow, read about the possible Aiken County impact of the national and state budget.
South Carolina's fiscal year may begin on July 1, as opposed to the Oct. 1 start of the federal government's fiscal year; however, the first of October brings expectations for the state as well, with an emphasis on infrastructure.
“Governor Haley has made supporting increased transportation spending a priority, which is why she signed into law a $1 billion infrastructure bill without raising taxes this past June – the largest investment in roads and bridges in 25 years,” said Doug Mayer, a spokesperson for Haley.
S.C. Rep. Bill Taylor, R-Aiken, mirrored that statement. “One of our biggest success stories from this year was funding major road improvements without raising taxes,” he said. “We need to continue that.”
Outside of infrastructure, state leaders are focused on continuing tasks from the current year. These include improving education, government transparency and ethics reform.
With ethics reform, attempted legislation would have required officials to begin disclosing their sources of income, limit their independent political spending and allow an ethics commission to investigate complaints brought against lawmakers. The House passed its ethics bill on April 30; however, the Senate did not receive enough support to pass legislation before the end of the session.
“Both the House and the Senate have addressed the issue, but we need to take the proper steps to pass the appropriate legislation,” Taylor added. “We have to work to improve the Freedom of Information Act. It's facing many legislative obstacles, but I want to cross the finish line with it so the government will be more transparent.”
According to Mayer, the governor will look to improve fiscal stewardship and fund the core functions of government. Recent budgeting has aided the state in revamping employment.
“Over the past two years, Governor Haley's executive budgets have increased resources for education and innovation and made the state more competitive by cutting taxes for businesses,” Mayer added. “Because of this, we now have the fastest-growing manufacturing sector on the east coast, creating over 37,000 new jobs and bringing in over $9 billion in new investment.”
Derrek Asberry is a beat reporter with the Aiken Standard news team and joined the paper in June.