Three days aways from a government shutdown deadline and state lawmakers still haven't passed a budget.
Afterwards, the Joint House/Senate Budget Conference Committee worked late into the evening and came to an agreement on a finalized budget, according to House Speaker Bobby Harrell's office.
The agreement included House’s plan to cut small business taxes 40 percent by reducing their income tax rate from 5 percent to 3 percent. The two Legislative Chambers were set to meet on Wednesday to adopt the plan, but the Senate announced Wednesday morning it was canceling session for the day.
“The budget conferees, both House and Senate, should be commended for working late into the night to approve a balanced budget plan that includes small business tax relief," Harrell said. "We just hope that all that progress is not undone by the Senate’s decision to cancel session today. By doing so, the Senate is drawing us yet another day closer to the July 1st government shutdown deadline with no budget being passed and no Continuing Resolution in place.”
The state's fiscal year will begin Sunday without a budget in place. A Continuing Resolution would allow the state to continue to operate at the previous year's funding. The measure passed the House last week, but is still in the Senate.
“I’m shocked the Senate decided not to work today," Harrell said in a release. "With just 3 days left until a government shutdown, the bill that would prevent that shutdown is still sitting on the Senate Desk just one roll call vote away from being passed. The House is in session today and stands ready to get this finished.”
According to the Senate calendar, voting for the Continuing Resolution is expected to be held Thursday.
The resolution would bridge the gap until Haley issues her vetoes, according to Bloomberg Businessweek. By law, Haley has five days to do so, excluding the weekend and the July 4.
“The fact is, to ensure we prevent a government shutdown, we should be passing a Continuing Resolution into law today,” Harrell added. “The House is here and we’re ready to work. Every teacher, law enforcement officer, state employee, every citizen who relies on the services the state provides are all waiting to see if this budget stalemate created by the Senate’s stonewalling will be resolved — Basically, with the eyes of all South Carolinians looking for their Legislature to act, the Senate is simply not here.”
The $6.7 billion spending plan for state taxes include a 3 percent pay raise for most state employees, $33 million in long-deferred maintenance at public colleges statewide, and roughly $20 million for a Commerce fund for infrastructure that helps close economic development deals.
The proposal also adds state law enforcement officers, while giving them a 5 percent pay raise, and provides 2 percent raises for public school teachers.
It also contains $300 million to fully fund the Charleston harbor dredging project.