BRIEFS: It’s budget time; Remembering Joe Neal

Ways and Means committee to consider budget next week

Staff reports  |  Lace up your budget boots because it’s already time to get serious.  Next week, the House Ways and Means Committee will hold its full committee deliberations.

Because the legislature this year meets a full month less than in the past, the whole budgeting process is moving along at a quicker pace than many are used to.  In the past, lawmakers generally voted on the budget by the first week of June.  This year, though, they’re hoping to finish by May 1.

Here’s a schedule of highlights, which is subject to change do to thing like politics:

  • Feb 20-23:  House Ways and Means full committee budget deliberations, with vote expected at end of the week.
  • March 13-16: Budget to de debated on House floor.
  • March 21-23: Senate Finance Committee to have full committee deliberations.
  • April 4-13: Senate to spend two weeks of floor time on budget.
  • April 18-27: Conference committee of House, Senate to develop compromises.
  • May 2-4: House-Senate budget delivered to governor
  • May 9-11: House and Senate to take up any vetoes.

Service for Neal to be Monday

The unexpected Tuesday night death of progressive leader and Democratic state Rep. Joe Neal of Hopkins, first elected in 1992 to the state House of Representatives, stunned people throughout the Statehouse.

Neal

Neal, a gentle leader with a powerful voice honed by years of preaching and politics, served as chairman of the S.C. Legislative Black Caucus from 2000 to 2002 and twice as chairman of the S.C. Progressive Network, including as its founding chair in 1996.

“While he represented lower Richland County in the legislature, he truly represented all who work and struggle for justice and equality,” Progressive Network Executive Director Brett Bursey said in a statement.  “He was more than our hero, he was our friend and brother. Joe always provided wise council and taught us that love and compassion are powerful weapons.”

GOP Gov. Henry McMaster said flags at the Statehouse would be lowered Monday, the day of Neal’s funeral.  “Throughout his remarkable career in public service, he was a compassionate force who gave voice to those without one, and stood tall for those who could not,” the governor said.

The S.C. Democratic Party offered this perspective:  “Joe Neal devoted his life to public service.  In the House, he fought tirelessly for the residents of his rural district.  He worked hard to ensure that his constituents had access to clean drinking water, battled predatory lending and combatted racial profiling.  He spoke passionately in favor of removing the Confederate flag from Statehouse grounds.  He was beloved among his colleagues, both those who usually agreed with him as well as those who didn’t. …

“A mentor and friend to so many, he always had time for people.  Joe Neal will be greatly missed.  He practiced every day what he preached on Sundays.  In his memory, let us all fight harder for those who are struggling and act kinder toward those we interact with every day.”

A memorial service will be 2:30 p.m. Sunday at Calvary Baptist Church in Chester were he preached for years.  His funeral will be 1 p.m. Monday at First Nazareth Baptist Church on Gervais Street in Columbia.

Joseph H. Neal, 1950-2017.  Rest in peace.

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