Most of the pieces I publish in this newspaper pertain to my efforts to limit the reach of government, expand individual liberty, and promote free markets — and that remains the core of my political philosophy.
But today, I want to emphasize one of my more parochial legislative objectives — that is, my insistence that Beaufort County be treated fairly in the annual state budget process. And in that regard, I take great pride in advising that the Beaufort County legislative delegation, capitalizing on its growing seniority and influence, has been making great strides.
For example, consider how USC Beaufort is being treated in the version of the state budget now being debated the South Carolina General Assembly.
The recurring annual state appropriation for USC Beaufort in that budget has been increased to a much greater degree than the increase for other higher-education institutions, to the point where its annual recurring funding would become 78 percent of the sector average. The per-pupil funding for USCB would be $3,231 as compared to the $4,141 sector average.
No, that isn’t 100% — not yet, anyway. But compare that 78 percent to the situation that existed only eight years ago, in the FY 2011-2012 cycle, when USC Beaufort’s annual recurring appropriation was only 37 percent of the sector average.
Moreover, given the assurances that have been made to me and other members of our county delegation by legislative leadership, I expect USC Beaufort to be fully funded at the sector average next year.
The bottom line is that the Beaufort County legislative delegation has gained clout in recent years, which in turn has enabled us to advocate more effectively on Beaufort County’s behalf when state appropriations are made — to achieve a level of funding equity that hadn’t existed since the 1970s and 1980s, back when our own Jimmy Waddell was chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.
I am proud of our delegation members and what we are accomplishing as a team. I am convinced the next 10 years will be prosperous one for our area, and I look forward to being a part of making that happen.
Tom Davis represents Beaufort and Jasper counties in the South Carolina Senate.