SC Sen. Shane Martin – Bi – Weekly Update #9

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Shane Martin2013-2014 Budget Bill

We have completed work on the 2013-2014 budget for South Carolina, and once again I faced the choice of taking the easy path of voting for the budget once it became a done deal or sticking with my principles and saying no to politics as usual. I had to say no. For most of my adult life I have heard about the underfunding of public education. During my time in the Senate, I have heard other senators who, each year during the budget debate, make lengthy floor speeches about it. This year the Education Finance Act (EFA) was scheduled to be about $500 million below the statutory requirement, but we also have nearly $700 million in new money for the year. I authored an amendment to fully fund the EFA (which most refer to as Base Student Cost). I also put up amendments to fully fund local government and the school bus replacement cycle. I quickly discovered that when given the chance to vote for education funding, school buses and local governments, my colleagues really didn’t want too. They complained “we can’t do that”, and one actually told me that the permanent South Carolina Code (in the nice blue books) really isn’t the law at all but that the real law is what we pass in the budget every year. The $700 million of new money will be spent in other ways and we will still have to hear about the underfunding of public education and no doubt this will continue to be an excuse to raise taxes.  As long as these games continue to be played with taxpayer money, I will have to continue to vote “no” on our budgets.

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