Sunday, March 6, 2005
budget proposal has more stories in it
SC Statehouse Report
6, 2005 - - The $5.9 billion state budget that will be considered
by the S.C. House soon has two big stories that have been
- Even though the state has $246 million in new revenue
this year, some smaller state agencies may face cuts.
- Because the state may fully fund education for the first
time in a few years, local school boards may be able to
lower local taxes.
Story One: More possible cuts
Last year, the state's revenue continued to be off because
of the national economic downturn. Because of shortfalls,
lawmakers agreed to spend $9 million with the state Department
of Revenue to attempt to generate $90 million in uncollected
revenues. Collections of this pool of money, generally called
"Maybank Money" because state Department of Revenue
Director Burnet Maybank III came up with the idea, are on
target, according to recent reports. In the coming year, another
$45 million is projected to be collected for the general fund.
proposed new spending
Maybank $ part of new spending?
of Mental Health
of Disabilities and Spec. Nds
of Nat. Resources
Rec and Tourism
Essentially, this column reflects whether the 2005-06
budget included line items that appear to correspond
closely with Maybank Money spending from 2004-05. If
the answer is "Yes," it indicates state lawmakers
allowed the non-recurring Maybank Money to become recurring.
If "No," 05-06 spending represents new programs.
Agencies either used the money as non-recurring and
face no shortfall. Or they may face shortfalls -- or
they didn't understand they could argue that Maybank
Money should recur for them.
But last year, state leaders made it clear to agencies that
if they got Maybank Money, it was for non-recurring things,
like building repairs, not recurring spending like salaries.
"Agencies that treated that like one-time money like
we told them will be fine this year," said House Ways
and Means Chairman Bobby Harrell, R-Charleston. "Agencies
that ignored our clear direction to treat it as one-time money
may have difficulties. If they didn't [follow our instructions],
it's their own fault."
What's really interesting about the proposed budget is that
some agencies made the case to appropriators that their one-time
money essentially should be extended. Other agencies didn't
For example, the S.C. Forestry Commission got $1,006,311
in Maybank Money last year. In the proposed 2005-06 budget,
it gets $1,006,311 for wildfire suppression. Last year, the
State Law Enforcement Division got $1,955, 389 in Maybank
Money. In the coming year, the House budget proposes to give
it $2 million in new money for "operating expenses."
Other agencies didn't get a windfall. In turn, they may face
some small cuts internally if the Maybank Money was used for
recurring expenses. A few examples:
- SCETV received $1,026,992 in Maybank money; in the proposed
budget it receives $1,267,911 in new money, but it's for
a new satellite service, not to replace last year's money.
- The Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services
received $1,865,077 in Maybank Money, but received only
$347,685 in new money, mostly for law enforcement salary
increases. Department spokesman Pete O'Boyle said last year's
money was used for one-time expenses so the department doesn't
expect any cuts.
- The Attorney General's office got $664,241 in Maybank
Money last year, but only $220,037 in new money in the proposed
- The S.C. House and S.C. Senate got almost $1.4 million
in Maybank Money last year. With both chambers' spending
loaded heavily on staff, some cuts may be in the offing
to stay within the budget.
WORLD: A commanding presence
Thumbs up/down and mixed reviews
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Story two: School taxes may go down
A provision in the new budget would give local school districts
the flexibility to drop local taxes.
Current law calls for local boards to raise taxes to match
increases in state Education Finance Act dollars - - the money
that mostly pays for teachers. Because the state has not been
fully funding teachers for the last few years through the
EFA, local boards often raised taxes to keep from cutting
But because the state is fully funding salaries this year,
local boards don't need to match the state increase. In essence,
they could get a windfall since they've added taxes over the
years to take care of shortages. But because there's no shortage,
they may not need the extra. But the current law doesn't allow
them to adjust local taxes downward, Harrell says.
"Normally, the law says school districts can't lower
funding levels below what was done last year," he said.
So he offered a provision that would allow them to do so
this year. Districts that want to cut taxes can. Others might
try to keep taxes the same and build up reserves.
3/4: A commanding
Another great cartoon from Bill McLemore:
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Here's a "thumbs up" and "thumbs down" related to various
political events from the past week:
Clyburn. Hats off to U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn for a convincing
article in The
State on Sunday opposing school vouchers.
Sanford. It's time for the stupid stunts to stop and
for the governor to engage with lawmakers, not prod them.
S.C. House. Democrats and Republicans should be ashamed
for passing a same-sex marriage amendment to the Constitution.
Not only does the proposal institutionalize discrimination
(and surely will be challenged at some point), but the state
already has a ban on same-sex marriage. This is a completely
unnecessary measure designed to inflame, not move the state
Rep. Joe Brown. The chair of the 3-M Committee has
it wrong on doctor discipline....The legislature will be in
session for 13 more weeks. There's more than enough time to
pass a bill that will let consumers know more about doctors
and complaints about them. It took less than a month for the
House to pass a bill to name no roads after living people.
Come on. This excuse doesn't pass the smell test in a House
known as a racetrack.
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