South Carolina Governor Inaugurated

South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster walks down the steps during his inauguration ceremony at the South Carolina Statehouse Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019, in Columbia.  AP Photo/Sean Rayford

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What will McMaster's budget look like?

The time for pomp and circumstance is over. State lawmakers hunker down for their first real week of work in Columbia this morning after their calendar was largely eaten up by inaugural events last week.

It will be a test for Gov. Henry McMaster, especially, as he is expected to release his executive budget sometime this week.

The executive budget is McMaster's chance to lay out his budgetary priorities. As my colleague Seanna Adcox points out: "It will be a test of whether or not he puts his money where his mouth is."

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The process: State agencies put in their budget requests this fall and soon they will see how much (and how little) they get. All told, those requests totaled some $2.2 billion in asks for new buildings, repairs, new programs, and additional employees. (In November, we laid out a sampling of what was being requested.) The governor then takes those requests into consideration when they submit their executive budget to the General Assembly.

What we expect: McMaster's inaugural address hinted at some funding priorities. In his 16-minute speech, McMaster made repeated calls to fix education, both K-12 and higher education. (And it drew some of the loudest applause.) How that translates into McMaster's budget will be worth noting.

A test for McMaster: This is a public starting point. State lawmakers can choose what to accept and what to reject from the governor's executive budget. Assistant Columbia Bureau Chief Seanna Adcox, who is now covering her 14th SC legislative session, notes that this is also a test for McMaster in seeing how willing (or unwilling) state lawmakers are to work with him, and how willing McMaster is to work with lawmakers.

The big $$$ question: What will McMaster do with the additional $1 billion surplus money the state has this go-round? Half of those monies are meant for one-time expenses. "Surpluses in state government revenues don’t mean we have to spend it all. It means prioritizing the most critical needs, then rebating what’s not needed back to the taxpayers," McMaster said in his inaugural address.

South Carolina hasn’t enforced classroom size limits since 2010

Years ago, South Carolina put limits on the size of public school classrooms. But in 2010, after the Great Recession, enforcement of those class sizes stopped.

Education reporter Paul Bowers recently found out that those limits still aren't enforced. And teachers have noticed.

Read more about the way teachers and students are impacted by these class sizes.

In other news:

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“Some in our party wonder why Republicans are constantly accused of racism — it is because of our silence when things like this are said."

U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., writing in a recent Washington Post op-ed about racially charged comments made by U.S. Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa.

Read more about how Tim Scott chided the GOP for its silence on Rep. Steve King comments.

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Reach Caitlin Byrd at 843-937-5590 and follow her on Twitter @MaryCaitlinByrd.

Political Reporter

Caitlin Byrd is a political reporter at The Post and Courier and author of the Palmetto Politics newsletter. Before moving to Charleston in 2016, her byline appeared in the Asheville Citizen-Times. To date, Byrd has won 17 awards for her work.