Easter and Passover are both a solemn and joyous time for Christians and Jews throughout the world. The religious celebrations also coincide with the rough half-way point for the South Carolina Legislative session.
The House of Representatives will take two weeks of furlough – allowing our legislator parents and grandparents to spend time with their families during traditional spring break holidays, and saving the taxpayers $100,000. The traditional furlough is also a time to look back at what we have accomplished, and what we still have to achieve, in this session.
This year, the House has approved sweeping reforms to our state retirement system. Those reforms will allow the state to keep pension promises to state employees while ensuring the retirement system doesn’t become a black hole for taxpayers. The House also approved the Right to Work Act. This legislation identified more than a half-dozen places where our Right to Work Act could be strengthened to protect our workers, and protect individual liberty. Every South Carolinian should have the right to work and make a living for his or her family without being forced to join a union or pay dues. Union participation should be a matter of choice for any worker, but our workers must be protected from undue coercion or influence by unions or businesses.
The Speaker of the House filed legislation this week that will ensure we hold the First in the South primary – whether it is a Republican or Democrat primary. The bill costs the state nothing, but ensures the tens of millions of private-sector spending that follows the Republican and Democrat nominees for President.
Finally, the House Republicans are moving tax reform legislation through committee as we head into furlough. The Caucus’s Tax Reform Study committee focused on creating a fairer tax code. Legislation is working through the process that will eliminate nearly two-thirds of the special interest sales tax exemptions, flatten income taxes, lower the sales tax, reform property taxes, and lower burdensome taxes on small businesses. We expect to take up all of these bills before the end of April.
We also approved a balanced budget that returned $600 million to taxpayers, set aside money to expand our ports, and gave teachers their first pay raise in four years.
In 1994, South Carolina voters entrusted the House Republicans with control of the S.C. House of Representatives. And for the last 18 years, the House Republican Caucus has been the starting point for much of our state’s most significant reforms.
This year, we have made great strides on passing the conservative legislation that our constituents have asked us to pass.
We’re proud of our record, and we are anxious to get more than a dozen items we passed last year through the Senate in the weeks that remain, including: a state spending limit, shortening the legislative session, reforming how bureaucratic regulations are created, and critical new pro-life protections.
Thank you for giving us the support to get all of these items through the House. We look forward to working with Republican conservatives throughout our state to make all of these bills the law of our state.
I wish you all a happy and healthy Easter and Passover, and I hope you all enjoy springtime in our great state.