COLUMBIA, SC (WSPA)- South Carolina lawmakers have to decide the fate of 2 budgets; the 2020 fiscal budget, which is current on hold, And more than $1 billion given to the state for pandemic expenses.
COVID-19 has cost the state billions of dollars, but releif is on the way. The state will get $1.9 billion from the Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES).
The biggest chunk of the money will help replenish the state’s unemployment trust fund. Lawmakers say this funding is needed so the state’s small businesses don’t have to cover the costs of the more than 600,000 people who filed for unemployment.
“They sure don’t need an extra burden around them, especially when you’re talking about paying $500 million. How many people is that they could employ instead of paying that back. It’s within our reach,” said Greenville Senator Ross Turner, who serves on the Senate Re-Open SC Select Committee.
The rest of the money would be spent on direct COVID-19 expenses like testing.
$215 million is being proposed for summer recovery programs and extra instructional time to catch our students up.
Internet connectivity has been a big barrier for both students and businesses. Governor McMaster is asking the General Assembly to spend more than $20 million on mobile hot spots and a broadband access survey.
Senator Vincent Sheheen represents rural South Carolina. The Kershaw County senator explained why broadband access is essential. “There are thousands of kids, thousands of people working from home, who have to drive 20 minutes and sit in the parking lot to have access to the internet. It’s 2020. That is unacceptable.”
The Senate Finance Committee will meet next week to go over the governor’s spending proposal.
Governor McMaster is encouraging the general assembly to allocate this money in two phases, with the first phase used to address the most time sensitive needs in the state.