"In my first term as a member of the South Carolina House of Representatives, I have gained the experience that will allow me going forward to best represent the interests of the people living in the Third District. I served on two House committees and participated in hearings that resulted in recommendations for action by the full House. I was successful in obtaining continued funding in the amount of $500,000 for Project Read, a state-funded grant operated through Southern Wesleyan University that provides training to K-5 and special services teachers for all grades in South Carolina. I was also able to obtain $200,000 in funding to support the construction of the Green Crescent Trail, a planned system of pedestrian and biking trails connecting Clemson, Central and Pendleton. I feel that my first term in the House has provided me the knowledge and skills that are needed to allow me to continue to be an advocate for and serve the citizens of the Third District."
I continue to be a strong supporter of our public school system and believe it critical that we continue to provide the funds and resources necessary to provide our children the best education possible. Our teachers did a heroic job during the past two years of the pandemic in adjusting and transitioning on a daily basis. To recognize their efforts, I supported increasing the starting salary for teachers from $36,000 to $40,000 annually to continue to elevate teacher’s salaries to the national average. I also supported providing $2.3 million in recurring funds is provided for teacher supplies to increase the amount that each teacher is afforded for purchasing classroom supplies from $275 to $300 .I also support increased funding to provide greater broadband access across the state to ensure that all students have ready access to the Internet for future learning opportunities.
It is critical that we act immediately to provide for needed maintenance and repair to our roads, bridges, and water and wastewater systems. For far too long, we have neglected these essential systems which now impact our daily lives and welfare. Through ARPA funds and a booming economy, funds have been designated to begin to address these issues but it will take years of work to bring these systems up to current day standards and to a point that they can address future growth in the area. I will stay focused on ensuring that those monies already earmarked will be used as intended and that future funds are appropriated in a manner that guarantees the future stability of our roadways and water systems.
As a Guardian Ad Litem, I have seen first-hand the issues when children have to be removed from their home by the Courts due to various forms of abuse or neglect. Additional resources are needed to support individuals who complete training to provide kinship care or become certified as foster parents. In additional to increased funding to help support these efforts, the public needs to become better educated about the number of instances where it becomes necessary to remove a child from the home and the manner and type of support that is required to ensure the best interest of the child are being addressed. This year I co-sponsored a bill that will allow children 18 years old who are in foster care to continue to receive services and support provided by the SC Department of Social Services until the age of 21. This includes students still pursuing secondary, post-secondary or vocational education. Also included are alternately-abled children, those in vocational rehabilitation or those working at least eight hours per month. I will work to bring more light to this serious problem and to encourage greater engagement at all levels to better protect and serve children in our area.