South Carolina’s colleges and universities are asking for nearly all of the added $1.2 billion that lawmakers will have to spend in next year’s state budget.
The state’s 17 research schools, four-year universities and their branch campuses have requested an added $587.6 million, and the state’s 16 technical colleges want $463.2 million more in state money. Roughly 90 percent of that added money is for one-time projects, including buildings and teaching equipment.
Higher education institutions still are trying to get restored state money that they lost when their state budgets were slashed during the Great Recession. Today, that funding is $245 million lower than it was before the economic downturn.
The $1.1 billion in college requests will be competing with requests for hundreds of millions of dollars in added state spending in other areas, including road repairs, flood relief, income tax cuts and increased K-12 spending in response to a S.C. Supreme Court ruling.
The three largest four-year colleges have asked for an added $240.5 million in state money.
▪ The University of South Carolina’s Columbia campus is asking for $46.3 million, including $21.5 million to renovate its soon-to-be-former law school building on Main Street, $5.8 million to pay 30 new faculty members at the Darla Moore School of Business, $5 million to add a wing to its Honors College dorm and $4 million to renovate the War Memorial building.
▪ Clemson University is asking for $64.4 million, including $25 million for a business and behavioral science building, $25 million for an advanced material sciences building and $1.5 million for a design center in Charleston.
▪ The College of Charleston is asking for $129.8 million, including $53.5 million to renovate the Simons Center for the Arts, $35 million for a new learning technology center, $23 million to renovate its physical education and health center, and $9.8 million to renovate the Stern Student Center.
Earlier this year, S.C. lawmakers considered borrowing – via bonds – to pay for building projects at S.C. colleges and universities.
But Gov. Nikki Haley helped kill a $500 million S.C. House bonding proposal. A similar, but smaller, $236 million Senate bonding proposal was delayed until lawmakers return in January.
If a borrowing proposal passes next year, it will be the first approved for capital projects in about 15 years.
When it was clear a bonding proposal would not pass last spring, lawmakers put some of the state’s one-time surplus into building projects at universities and colleges.
The Medical University of South Carolina received $25 million for its Children’s Hospital. USC was given $5 million to help renovate the South Caroliniana Library and $3.5 million to help pay for the law school renovation. The College of Charleston received $1.8 million toward the cost of the Stern building renovation, and Clemson was given $5 million for the business and behavioral science building.
Gov. Haley not interested in RGA chair for now
Republican Gov. Nikki Haley is not interested in a leadership role with the Republican Governors Association until at least 2017, she told reporters at a news conference last week.
“It is a group that I dearly love, but I have told them that I will not do anything … for the next two years,” said Haley, who has been on the RGA’s executive committee since her first year as governor. “I have too much in South Carolina to do.”
Call-in to Gowdy, Mulvaney
U.S. Reps. Trey Gowdy, R-Spartanburg and Mick Mulvaney, R-Indian Land, will appear on The Point radio Tuesday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., taking phone calls from listeners.
Often elected officials who appear on the radio show want to know topics or questions that they will be asked beforehand, said host Keven Cohen. “In this case, what’s refreshing is just that they’re willing to take calls.”
Listeners can tune in to 95.9 FM 1470 AM or visit www.makethepointradio.com.
Battle of the campaign schools
The S.C. Club for Growth will hold a crash course for candidates on Dec. 5 after the S.C. House GOP Caucus canceled its campaign school planned for that day.
The group said its event will “fill the ever increasing void left by legislative leadership.”
S.C. House Majority Leader Bruce Bannister of Greenville said the GOP Caucus decided to move its candidates school to closer to the March filing deadline for House seats. The school brings in consultants, attorneys, social media experts and current House members to help candidates, Bannister said.
“The House Republican Caucus intends to recruit and train pro-business, conservative Republican candidates to serve in the House of Representatives,” Bannister said.
It’s likely the school will be held in the Charleston area because of contests expected in that area in the upcoming election cycle, Bannister said.
Charleston-area Republican state Reps. Chip Limehouse and Jenny Horne already have announced they will not seek re-election. In addition, Democratic state Rep. Mary Tinkler likely will face a Republican challenger in a district – until recently, represented by Republican House Speaker Bobby Harrell – that typically votes red.
2016 in S.C.
Where the presidential candidates will be in the Palmetto State this week:
▪ Democrat Bernie Sanders will be at St. Helena at 3 p.m. Sunday, hosting a town hall meeting at 16 Penn Center Circle West.
▪ Republican Donald Trump will appear at a rally in Myrtle Beach at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Myrtle Beach Convention Center, 2101 North Oak St.