I want to let you know that I worked hard and was successful this year in getting some of my priorities into the state budget. I’ve fought for years to follow the statute and return local government funding to its full level. This year we added $27.5 million for a total funding level of $240 million, and while we still have a way to go, I am pleased that we took this step. I also have fought for our school buses to be fully funded (again per the statute) and this year we added $28 million for school buses of which $10 million is recurring. We also included a $19.2 million increase for bus driver salaries to improve retention. Like the local government fund, we’re not all the way back, but I am proud to have led the way on this progress. We also increased the Base Student Cost of the Education Finance Act (yet another statute that we’re not abiding) from $2,220 to $2,350, a $130 increase per weighted pupil unit. I always have fought for our schools, and I will keep up the fight each year that you send me back. I must tell you, though, that I still had to vote “no” on the budget this year. I voted against final approval for a couple of reasons. The first is that even after the horrific revelations concerning Planned Parenthood over the past year, we still could not manage to defund them here in SC. I and another conservative senator are working on a plan for next year, but I could not, in good conscience, vote this year to knowingly send funds to that awful organization. I also voted no because the money for roads will be spent to bond, i.e. borrow, and I cannot support more debt.