ATLANTA -- South Carolina's legislature ended its 1994 session Thursday evening, shortly after approving a $4.15 billion general fund budget for fiscal 1995 and authorizing $105 million of general obligation bonds.
Before adjourning, lawmakers also ratified and sent to Gov. Carroll Campbell groundbreaking legislation that would require issuers in the state to commit to ongoing secondary market disclosure before they could sell bonds.
The general appropriations bill for the fiscal year that begins July 1 will fund the first pay raise for state workers in three years and an income tax cut for families with young children, a spokesman for the House Ways and Means Committee said Friday.
It will also begin financing an $85 million settlement of a lawsuit filed by retires who claimed unfair taxation of federal retirement income. The spending package was achieved without any new taxes, the spokesman said.
Proceeds from the GO bonds approved by lawmakers would be used to buy 2,000 new school buses, a third of the state's aging school bus fleet, he said.
In other action with a significant fiscal impact, the legislature prohibited out-of-region nuclear waste from being deposited in the state after June 30. The measure phases out a waste repository center at Barnwell, which had brought in about $60 million in revenue a year.
The legislature, however, failed to agree on any plan for property tax reduction, a much discussed topic during the session. It also failed to institute any welfare reform or revamping of the state's health care system, items also considered at length.
Campbell, a second-term governor who concludes his tenure next January, called the session a success. Under South Carolina law he is prohibited from seeking a third term.
"I go out with no regrets whatsoever," he told reporters at a press conference Thursday. "The fact is, we did as much as we could, and the government's restructured, the taxes are cut, the businesses are coming in, the education system has been changed, so I leave with a certain amount of pride."
Campbell's comments referred mostly to earlier sessions, which achieved educational reform and reorganized state government to make agencies directly answerable to the governor through a cabinet system.
The 53-year-old Republican announced last Friday that after he leaves office he will become president of the American Council of Life Insurance, an industry trade association based in Washington, D.C.
The legislature's reduction of state income taxes doubles, to $4,700, the deduction residents can claim for young children. The change, which will reduce income tax collections by an estimated $36 million over the four-year phase-in period, is applicable to children younger than six.
The pay hikes raise the salaries of teachers by an average 3.6% and other state employees by an average 4.4%, and will cost about $70 million.
The bond disclosure bill requires that each issuer in South Carolina promise, before it sells a debt issue, that it will file information with a central repository "for availability in the secondary market when requested."
At a minimum, the bill says, each issuer would be required to provide an "annual independent audit within thirty days of the issuer's receipt of the audit" and "event specific information, within thirty days of an event adversely affecting more than 5% of revenue or its tax base."
The bill would apply to bond issues whose indentures are executed after the legislation becomes law. The effective date would be the first day of the second month following gubernatorial approval of the legislation.
The legislature also passed an anti-crime package that loosens restrictions on trying juveniles as adults, restricts appeals, and funds hand-held metal detectors for all middle and high schools.