Education and economy; 2 big areas in CARES Act spending proposed by SC Senators

Local News

COLUMBIA, SC (WSPA)- It’s been over a month since South Carolina lawmakers were in Columbia and on Tuesday, half of the General Assembly was back in the capital city.

South Carolina Senators were at the State House to decide how the state should spend $1.9 billion it’s receiving in CARES Act Funding.

Senators worked on allocating $1.9 billion dollars from the Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security Act to parts of the state that need it the most.

“Essentially, we focused on two big picture items. #1 is the economy and replenishing the unemployment trust fund. And #2 that is dear and near to my heart is education,” said Senator Vincent Sheheen.

For education, more than $222 million will be authorized for academic recovery camps and extra instructional time.

Senator Sheheen added, “It’s critical to get these kids back in the classroom if we can because they’ve missed so much already.”

And another $50 million for broadband connectivity mapping coverage and hot spots.

Senator Shane Martin from Spartanburg County explained how broadband issues has impacted his family. “Even with my children we’ve had to go to an elementary school and the superintendent turned all the WiFi boosters up so we can get WiFi in the parking lot so students can have it, but it’s been a hassle.”

To improve the state’s economy and help small businesses senators are hoping $500 million is spent to replenish the unemployment trust fund.

Senator Martin continued, “I think that’s a good step in the right direction as they’re doing a good thing and trying to get our families back to work.”

South Carolina senators are only proposing spending $1.3 billion dollars out of the $1.9 billion to hold onto some money for needs that may come up later.

“What hasn’t been done is trying to help these entities with the loss of revenue. We have seen hospitals bleeding out because they have not been able to have surgeries and things that generate revenue.”

Lawmakers will return to the State House in September. At that time, they will address the state’s 2020 fiscal budget.

Lawmakers say they want to put that $600 million not being used from the CARES Act funding to the side until they return to the state house in September just in case the state’s needs change.

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