South Carolina Lawmakers Propose Over $435 Million in Spending Requests for Local Projects, Aiming to Enhance Communities and Boost State Budget Transparency

State budget project funding

SC lawmakers Seek Funding for Local Projects

South Carolina lawmakers have submitted more than $435 million in one-time spending requests for a range of community-oriented projects. These spending requests represent an important part of South Carolina’s budget process and will be finalized when lawmakers return to Columbia next month to work out the 2024-25 state budget before the new fiscal year starts on July 1.

The Variety and Purpose of Spending Requests

Earmarks, one-time appropriations requested by legislators for funding initiatives within their districts, represent a key slice of the state budget. They can span an eclectic mix of projects, from much-needed road improvements and high school football all-star games to beach restorations and funding for local cultural heritage sites. One of the more unique requests comes from Beaufort Republican Sen. Tom Davis, who submitted a multimillion-dollar earmark aimed at moving an endangered historic church to a safer location.

Who Requested the Most?

The lion’s share of requests came from the House of Representatives, which asked for $274.5 million across 339 individual requests. The Senate asked for slightly over $180 million and Statehouse committees requested a bit more than $10.6 million for various projects. Notably, some lawmakers did not ask for any earmarks this year.

The highest individual request comes from Senate Finance Committee Chairman Harvey Peeler who requested more than $10.2 million for his district, with $4 million set aside for building an indoor recreational facility in Clover. Conversely, the most requests were submitted by Belton Republican Michael Gambrell, who submitted twelve varied requests ranging from combatting domestic abuse in Anderson County to funding for a public pool in Belton.

The Largest Projects

Some of the most substantial requests include an $8 million ask for York County Transportation Infrastructure Improvements, $6 million for an Aquatics Center in Richland County, and $5.9 million for competition facilities at Sumter’s Bobby Richardson Park. There are also significant requests for community rejuvenation, including revitalization projects in downtown Myrtle Beach totaling $10 million and $5 million for street improvements in Columbia.

Increasing Budget Transparency

The budget process in South Carolina has faced criticism for a lack of transparency regarding fund allocation. In response, Governor Henry McMaster issued an executive order in 2021 demanding detailed descriptions of earmarks in all future budgets. While this move has improved transparency, some critics argue that there is still room for further improvement.

Overall, South Carolina’s General Assembly has submitted $435 million in one-time spending requests, marking a significant decrease from past fiscal years. The decrease in spending requests, while still substantial, represents a tighter revenue stream for the state in the coming years. The final decision on the budget and its associated earmarks will be made in a given period expected to occur in June.

South Carolina Lawmakers Propose Over $435 Million in Spending Requests for Local Projects, Aiming to Enhance Communities and Boost State Budget Transparency

Author: HERE Irmo

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