S.C. colleges and technical schools were the biggest winners in the first draft of a nearly $500 million borrowing proposal, revealed Thursday.
Nearly $251 million in college maintenance and renovation projects made the cut after legislators whittled down more than $2 billion in requests by state agencies, most from colleges.
“It was very difficult, actually, to pare down,” said state Rep. Brian White, R-Anderson, who chairs the House budget-writing committee. “The needs are great.”
The needs are great.”
House Ways and Means Committee chair Brian White, R-Anderson
The proposed bond bill includes $25 million to renovate the University of South Carolina’s soon-to-be-former law school building on Columbia’s Main Street, $25 million to renovate two 1960s-era classroom buildings at Clemson University and $87 million to be split among the state’s 16 technical colleges.
House budget writers also proposed borrowing $80 million to repair state-owned buildings, $30 million to replace aging school buses and $15 million to renovate the state’s deteriorating armories.
Budget writers sifted through a “logjam” of requests that have piled up since the state’s last bond bill in 2001, state Rep. Murrell Smith said.
“This is the result when we don’t address the capital needs in the state of South Carolina,” said the Sumter Republican, who chairs a House panel on healthcare funding.
This is the result when we don’t address the capital needs in the state of South Carolina.”
State Rep. Murrell Smith, R-Sumter
Some lawmakers winced at projects that hit the cutting-room floor.
S.C. State University, for example, had asked lawmakers for nearly $35.5 million, including $5.7 million to repair or replace the roofs of a dozen buildings and about $8.5 million to renovate a 400-bed residence hall.
The Orangeburg school – in the midst of a financial turnaround – was approved for only $8 million, most to upgrade its information technology.
State Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter, D-Orangeburg, said leaky roofs only would only more maintenance problems, S.C. State needs the residence hall renovation since enrollment is rebounding, she added. “I’m really disappointed that in a bill of this magnitude, $500 million, that all we can find for S.C. State is $8 million.”
I’m really disappointed that in a bill of this magnitude, $500 million, that all we can find for S.C. State is $8 million.”
State Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter, D-Orangeburg
Other agencies also are doing without, her GOP counterparts responded. They added they want the state to get back into the habit of passing “manageable” bond bills every few years to avoid another logjam.
“We’re trying to once again establish this in phases,” White said.
What else will the bond bill pay for?
Not all of the money is going to S.C. colleges. House budget writers also proposed borrowing:
▪ $80 million for deferred maintenance of state-owned buildings
▪ $30 million to replace aging school buses
▪ $25 million for the Commerce Department’s economic development efforts
▪ $16.2 million for rest area renovations
▪ $15 million to renovate armories
▪ Nearly $14.2 million to maintain Department of Mental Health buildings
▪ $12 million for Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services behavioral health clinics
▪ $11 million for state parks maintenance
▪ $10 million to renovate or rebuild five welcome centers
▪ $10 million for the State Ports Authority to increase cargo capacity at the Wando Welch Terminal
▪ $10 million for maintenance and renovation of S.C. Department of Natural Resources marine facilities and hatcheries
▪ $6.1 million for S.C. Department of Corrections maintenance
▪ $3.8 million for Department of Juvenile Justice maintenance
▪ $3.5 million for S.C. Fire Academy facilities
▪ $3 million to modernize the Judicial Department’s court case-management system
SOURCE: S.C. House Ways and Means Committee
Which colleges stand to benefit?
S.C. colleges and technical schools are slated to get nearly $251 million for maintenance projects in House budget writers’ first draft of a proposed bond bill. A look at how much money is headed to each school.
1. Tech schools: $87 million
2. USC-Columbia: $25 million
3. Medical University of South Carolina: $25 million
4. Clemson University: $25 million
5. College of Charleston: $12 million
6. Winthrop University: $10 million
7. The Citadel: $8 million
8. Coastal Carolina University: $8 million
9. Francis Marion University: $8 million
10. S.C. State University: $8 million
11. USC-Beaufort: $8 million
12. USC-Upstate: $8 million
13. USC-Palmetto College: $7.94 million
14. Lander University: $7.5 million
15. USC-Aiken: $3.5 million
SOURCE: S.C. House Ways and Means Committee