Education funding, state spending, and pension and tax reform top the 2012 priorities for Beaufort County legislators.
The second regular session of the 119th S.C. General Assembly convenes Tuesday.
Beaufort County's Legislative Delegation last year helped pass an amendment to the state's Education Finance Act giving the county a larger share of state money.
The county also received an additional $630,000 in a special budget proviso proposed by Sen. Tom Davis, R-Beaufort, and supported by state Reps. Shannon Erickson, R-Beaufort; Bill Herbkersman, R-Bluffton; Andy Patrick, R-Hilton Head Island; and Ken Hodges, D-Green Pond.
The legislators say more work remains, however.
Davis, for example, wants all counties to assess properties based on their full market value. He also wants the full value of manufacturing and commercial properties to be counted in calculations of counties' tax bases. Both affect a county's ability to generate property taxes.
The changes, he said, would give a truer county-by-county picture of state funding needs for education.
Problems with the state pension system are also looming.
If all eligible workers decided to retire right now, the state's pension fund is looking at a $17 billion gap.
Public employees would have to work 30 years and be at least 62 years old to draw full retirement benefits under a proposal given initial approval Dec. 12 by a House panel. Accepted guidelines say pension gaps should be covered within 30 years. A draft report given to lawmakers last year, however, showed the state wouldn't cover the gap, but a combo of lower cost-of-living payments and other legislative changes would put the system back on track, according to The Associated Press.
Attempts to reach some delegation members were unsuccessful. Here are the top three priorities of those available for comment.
Rep. Curtis Brantley, D-Ridgeland
* State spending: The legislature's mentality of "spend everything you get" has to stop. Instead of using new tax dollars to expand and add programs, use the surplus to either pay down debt or reimburse taxpayers for overpayments.
Staff writer Rachel Heaton contributed to this report. Follow reporter Tom Barton at twitter.com/EyeOnHiltonHead.