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Three Things to Know: November 19th 
This Week’s information compiled by your Greater Sumter Chamber Team Includes: 
DHEC UpdatesSouth Carolina State Budget ForecastNew Senate Minority Leaders Elected
1.DHEC Updates 
COVID 19 Vaccine
On Wednesday, November 18th, several public health officials with the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) gave an update on the status of distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine. When released, vaccines will be free for all people, but the first supply will be limited. Currently, DHEC has planned three phases for vaccine distribution. Phase 1 will be for critical populations; Phase 2 will open distribution for more at-risk groups and the general population, and Phase 3 will be open to the general population based on supply and demand.
Organizations and facilities are encouraged to enroll to become COVID-19 vaccine providers. You can learn more here.
Holiday Recommendations 
This week DHEC released new considerations from the CDC regarding gathering for winter holidays. They include:  Having a small dinner with only people who live in your householdHaving a virtual dinner and sharing recipes with friends and familyShopping online rather than in person Watching sports events, parades, and movies from homeThe full list of considerations can be found here.

2. South Carolina State Budget Forecast

Last week, the Board of Economic Advisors (BEA) met to update the state’s General Fund forecast for this fiscal year and release the preliminary estimate for the 2021-2022 fiscal year. Based on sales, tax, and employment data, forecasters outlined the following assumptions:
  South Carolina has recovered 70 percent of job losses but expects the remaining jobs to return slowlyAnticipate returning to pre-pandemic employment levels in February 2022Expect wage growth and proprietor’s income to grow but at slower than historical ratesCurrent assumptions do not anticipate any new federal stimulus  2020-21 Forecast: Gross General Fund revenue is now forecast at $9.45 billion. This estimate was reduced by another $50 million from the August estimate of $9.50 billion (the August estimate reduced the forecast $52.1 million from the May estimate of $9.55 billion). For reference, in February of this year, the BEA predicted General Fund revenue of $10.25 billion for FY 2020-21. Although the new adjustments downgrade the forecast, the new forecast would remain $36.3 million above the FY 2020-21 budget. The state also still has an $811 million one-time surplus. The legislature will have to option to approve an FY 2020-21 spending plan when they return in January or can choose to continue to operate under the current Continuing Resolution and pass a new budget for the 2021-22 fiscal year.  Preliminary 2021-22 Forecast: Gross General Fund revenue is expected to grow slightly to $9.61 billion (a 1.7% percent increase from FY 20-21). This growth is predicted to equate to approximately $182.2 million in additional recurring funds. There is still expected to be nearly $1 billion in one-time funds that should be available ($987.4 million). This forecast will be updated in February. 

3. New Senate Minority Leaders Elected 

On Tuesday, November 17th, Senator Brad Hutto (D-Orangeburg) was elected as the new Senate Minority Leader by the Senate Democratic Caucus, replacing Senator Nikki Setzler as the leader for the Senate Democrats.  Senator Hutto was first elected to the SC Senate in 1996 and works professionally as a trial attorney with the law firm Williams and Williams. He is married to Dr. Tracey MacPherson and has one son. Currently, he serves on the Banking & Insurance, Education, Ethics, Fish, Game, & Forestry, Judiciary, Legislative Oversight, and Medical Affairs Committees.

Senator Ronnie Sabb (D-Williamsburg) was elected as the Assistant Minority Leader. He was elected to the SC House of Representatives in 2011 and served there until 2014 when he was first elected to the Senate. Senator Sabb is an attorney at his own practice in Kingstree. Currently, he serves on the Agriculture and Natural Resources, Judiciary, Labor, Commerce and Industry, Rules, and Transportation Committees.
The South Carolina General Assembly is scheduled to return to Columbia for the session the second week of January (however, the House of Representatives will return on December 1st. .
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