Working closely with Gov. Henry McMaster, leaders in the House and Senate promised to be bold this legislative session with reforms. The Governor devoted almost one-third of his entire State of the State speech on Wednesday to the need to find solutions to our outdated education system. On top of that, the House released a comprehensive education reform package this past week as well (see more below).
As the legislative session moves along it is apparent that the overarching themes will be education and tax reform. One of my top priorities is to be a good steward of the taxpayer’s dollar and ensure the tax code is the best it can be for South Carolinians.
The House Tax Reform Committee continued its work this week and is working hard on how to best overhaul SC’s tax structure with the goal to create fairer and lower taxes on individuals and businesses. An effort that is desperately needed.
House Bill 3759. South Carolina Career Opportunity and Access for All Act: House Republicans have been working on an 84-page comprehensive education reform bill that tackles the fundamental changes we need to make to modernize our education system. This bill, introduced on Thursday morning, includes a Student Bill of Rights that ensures every student has highly qualified teachers, excellent principal leadership and a system that puts their successes first. I am committed to doing what is best for the next generation so they are prepared to enter the workforce. I look forward to examining this bill in the Education and Public Works Committee this week to ensure it is cost prudent while accomplishing its policy aims.
Highlights from the bill:
Making sure third graders are promoted to the next grade level with the ability to read by revising definitions and exemptions in the 2014 Read to Succeed law.
Requiring school districts with fewer than 1,000 students to consolidate with neighboring districts to share resources and save money.
Dissolving school districts that have four consecutive years of failing scores.Increase the salary of first-year teachers to $35,000 next school year and provide an across the board 9% pay raise for all teachers over the next two years.
Improving communication efforts from pre-school through college by creating a Zero to 20 Committee that is overseen by the Governor.
Eliminating three end-of-year standardized tests in elementary schools.
Requiring high school students to pass an admissions test before entering a technical college to ensure they are prepared for the next level of education.
Requiring school boards to adopt ethics policies and training.
This particular bill focuses on policy, but more education reform bills are still to come. H.3759 is expected to be debated on the House floor in March. I’ve attached the link to the bill and an article. Let me know what you think of the bill.
The State of the State: On Wednesday night in the House chamber, Governor Henry McMaster shared his agenda with the state. I am pleased that public education and keeping South Carolina’s economy “red hot” through lower taxes are his main priorities. He emphasized that South Carolina’s unemployment rate is at an all-time low, but there is a shortage of skilled workers and teachers that can only be fixed by reforming our education system. Another priority the Governor addressed is returning a large portion of the budget surplus to tax payers in the form of a one-time rebate. I look forward to working with the Governor on policies that help my constituents and the State while being a checks and balance against wasteful spending.
More Transparency in Government: Keeping with campaign promise of changing the culture of our State and local government, I sponsored a bill this past week that requires more oversight for those lobbying government to ensure more accountability. See the links below.
The deadline to get the state’s new driver’s license that features the REAL ID is getting closer. DMV officials are predicting hours-long lines next year in advance of the October 2020 deadline. At that time, you will need a REAL ID to fly commercially. DMV Chief Kevin Shwedo briefed the House Education Committee last week. At the current rate of sign-ups, he said, "I'm betting on six-hour lines because people aren't coming in."
Read More in The State: Want to Avoid Long Lines at DMV?