Statehouse Update Mar 11-14: Big debates on budget and judicial reform

Statehouse Update Mar 11-14: Big debates on budget and judicial reform

Heads up! It’s budget week at the Statehouse. Debate starts this afternoon in the House over how to appropriate billions in taxpayer dollars for the FY 2024-25 state budget. If you want to know where your money could be headed and how lawmakers could do more for tax relief, we’ve got you covered. We recently published an extensive budget breakdown with all the details (read more here). Here are some key takeaways.  


  • The combined budget is $40.6 billion (including general, federal and other funds)
  • Lawmakers propose an income tax cut from 6.4% to 6.3% (but more can be done!)
  • The recurring surplus is $660.9 million (which can be used to speed up tax relief!)
  • The amount of new, one-time money is $506 million (which can be rebated to taxpayers)

*Note: This does not include an account of $1.8 billion recently discovered by state officials, apparently the result of an accounting mistake. 

A key area of the budget, one that deals primarily with state tax revenues, exceeds our recommended limit by more than $31 million, based on state population growth and inflation.  

Applying more of the surplus to income tax relief would allow South Carolina to stay within the recommended ceiling and reduce the government’s burden on taxpayers.  

Lawmakers propose using more than $57 million to freeze college tuition for another year, which accounts for nearly 9% of the available recurring surplus. In a separate spending bill, they want to allocate hundreds of millions of dollars for pricey capital projects, including $50 million for a nebulous initiative within the S.C. Department of Commerce called “SC Nexus”.  



Want to tune in? Watch the House livestream starting at 1pm by clicking here. For more updates on the budget throughout the week, follow us on X (formerly Twitter).  


Meanwhile, the Senate is set to continue debate on a major judicial reform proposal, which it started on last week. The bill (S.1046) aims to make key changes to South Carolina’s judicial selection process, including: 

  • Reducing the number of legislative appointments to the Judicial Merit Selection Commission (JMSC), in addition to shrinking its size and terminating its existing membership.

  • Effectively prohibiting legislators from serving on the commission.

  • Stipulating that if a judicial candidate is a family member of a sitting JMSC member, that member must resign.

  • Repealing the cap that prevents more than three qualified candidates from being nominated per open judicial seat.

  • Requiring all public hearings of the JMSC to be livestreamed, making exceptions for executive session.

  • Increasing the period from one to two years that an outgoing legislator must wait until he or she can be elected as judge.

  • Requiring judicial candidates to receive a majority of votes from both the House and Senate to be elected (currently they only need a majority of votes from the joint body).

  • Changing the rules so that recommendations for magistrate appointments made to the governor must occur through a weighted vote of the full county legislative delegation (currently this involves only the local Senate delegation).

Follow us on X for more updates.



Cosmetology licensing reform (S.1132) – This bill would allow certain cosmetology tasks to be performed without a license. Status: A Senate LCI subcommittee considers the bill at 11 on Wednesday. 

Contracting reform for residential swimming pools (S.1139) – This bill would remove residential swimming pools from the swimming pool sub classification for general contractors with a specialty classification. Status: A Senate LCI subcommittee considers the bill at 11 on Wednesday.