First of year update from state General Assembly

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Jeff Bradley

In the South Carolina General Assembly, 2019 might be referred to as the year of reform. In the House of Representatives, we are working on many different reform packages; education reform, tax policy reform, regulation reform, and pension reform, to name a few.

Highlighting the reforms is a series of bills introduced by S.C. Speaker of the House Jay Lucas to reform education in South Carolina. The state of South Carolina is 24th in the nation in per-pupil expenditures, but 50th in the nation in outcomes from our public schools.

The Speaker's education reform package includes six primary areas of reform, from changing our antiquated financing regimes to increasing teacher pay and further consolidating school districts.

In the last week of January, in the House we passed a number of bills that now go to the Senate for action. Of particular note are bills that return local government funding to 4 1/2 percent of the state general fund, as well as changes to the way military retirees are taxed at the state level.

Along with Rep. Bill Herbkersman from Bluffton, I continue to work on pension reform. In my view, the unfunded liability of the state retirement system and pension reform are the biggest problems in the state at this point.

We met last week with the Speaker of the House, the Governor's office and the executive director of the Public Employees Benefit Authority (PEBA) to talk about pension reform. At present, we are waiting on PEBA's actuaries to return to us the various costs of three competing alternatives for pension reform.

I am also working on adjusting the hospitality and accommodation taxes to provide assistance to local efforts to incentivize workforce housing solutions here on Hilton Head Island. I have also introduced legislation that tightened up ethics rules for people running for office.

All in all, 2019 will be considered the year of reform. As Gov. Henry McMaster said in his State of the State address in January, "It is time for bold new solutions in South Carolina."

Jeff Bradley is the representative for District 123 in the State House of Representatives.

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