S.C. Statehouse Report
Sunday, May 27, 2007
VIEW: http://www.statehousereport.com/columns/07.0527.budget.htm

Perspective shows extra budget money needed
By Andy Brack, Publisher

MAY 27, 2007 - - Depending on how you look at something, you form an opinion. But if you give it a different look - - take a different perspective - - your opinion might just change.

So it is with the state's whopping $7.3 billion budget.

Self-anointed budget hawks are crying foul (sorry for the pun) because of the sheer size of the budget, which includes more than a billion dollars of new spending compared to last year. The headlines on commentaries rage, "Bloated budget stunts our state's economic growth" and "Budget needs work."

From these peoples' perspectives, there is just too much money being spent. They want more tax cuts, like they always do. Gov. Mark Sanford recently railed in a column that the state's budget has grown 40 percent over the last four years - - much faster than economic growth and people's paychecks.

He's right. But his perspective and that of others are only short-term views because they work for the argument that the government shouldn't get so much money and more should be returned to people.

If, however, you look at the whole budget process over a longer term - say 10 years - you might come to this realization: Using just the last four years to make your argument is a little dodgy because four years ago, the state was in a fiscal recession. In fact, the state's 2003-04 general fund budget actually dropped almost a half billion dollars to $5 billion from $5.4 billion the previous year.

So let's go a little further and look at a 10-year period. In the 1997-98 budget, lawmakers appropriated $4.7 billion in state money to cover government expenses. That number dipped slightly the following year, but then grew at about $200 million a year through 2001-02. During the next two years as the recession pinched, appropriations dropped significantly below what was projected. It took until the 2005-06 budget year for legislative spending to grow to $5.6 billion - - the level it should have reached three years earlier.

In other words, for several years, the state received much less money - billions, in fact -- than it would have if budget growth had been steady in the early part of the decade. During these lean years, state government cut programs and cut services significantly to become leaner.

In the same time span, costs of providing services went up dramatically. Health care costs spiraled. Leaders put significantly more resources into education. Borrowing led to increases in debt payments.

Today's state government, in fact, is remarkably smaller than it was 10 years ago. For example, despite the fact that the state's population grew from 3.9 million in 1997 to 4.3 million today, there are 5,000 fewer state employees today. Other examples: while spending on education and health care have far exceeded average increases, state dollars for corrections have gone up relatively little - - only 16.7 percent over 10 years. State appropriations for higher education have gone up 38 percent, still less than inflation and growth, which caused colleges to raise tuition dramatically.


We encourage your feedback. If you'd like to respond to something in SC Statehouse Report, please send us an e-mail. We reserve the right to edit for length and clarity. One submission allowed per month. Submission of a comment grants permission to us to reprint. Please keep your comment to 250 words or less:


So with the whining over the state appropriating too much money this year and not giving enough back to the people, consider the good news: South Carolina is out of a recession. Growth in revenues is occurring, which shows we're getting healthier.

As far as the pending budget, we're back on track to where we should be based on projections of population growth and inflation. Unfortunately, the state has lost about $3.4 billion in revenues from the bad years, which really hurt the state's long-term infrastructure needs and crippled smaller agencies trying to provide the services demanded by the public.

Bottom line: A little longer perspective shows how much the state has lost over the last few years. Now, as with all cycles, the state is starting to plug the holes that have been leaking for far too long. If South Carolinians want good government, they have to realize they can't get something for nothing.

You can reach Andy Brack, publisher of SC Statehouse Report, at brack@statehousereport.com.

Recent commentary

lighter side
Gas prices have different impacts

Another great cartoon by Bill McLemore:

5/21: Willing to buy bridge for more guns

To the publisher

"Guns in schools not smart." [Commentary, 5/13] The very title suggests many students will have guns. Not so. Concealed Carry Permits apply to those 21 years or over, not Freshmen or Sophomores or Juniors. The law should read "may carry on campuses". The Regents can control actual policy. Students in dormitories have a large weapon security concern from the number of students in the building; students residing off campus have a lesser concern for the safety of the firearm from theft. Others have noted that 6% of the populace will get a CCW Permit, but only 3% will actually carry a weapon. That is sufficient to deter criminal activity where large numbers of people are gathered. Those faculty members with CCW Permits is sufficient for deterrence on campus; visitors with CCW Permits are few in number. …

You say "They're made for killing people." WRONG. Hunting is the prime purpose for long guns; pistols are for personal defense. I have owned guns for fifty years and have yet to kill anybody. Even with a CCW the firing of the weapon is the LAST resort. Courts have ruled that police do not have to respond to your call, even as your door is being kicked in. I suspect if you or your wife were being assaulted or raped, you might welcome the intervention of a CCW holder.

The English gun ban and Australian gun ban did indeed result in fewer gun deaths, but the crime rate skyrocketed with many deaths by knife. The most effective defense for the inhabitant had been outlawed.

I and thousands of CCW holders will buy that bridge.

-- Bernard W. Fatig, Hartsville, SC

Recent feedback

The best way to get South Carolina news is to augment your morning paper and TV show with SC Clips, a daily executive news summary compiled from more than 30 state newspaper and TV sources. It's delivered every business day and is packed with news of statewide impact, politics, business and more. Subscriptions are affordable at $30 per month -- and less for business subscribers. More: SC Clips.

How you can subscribe to the full edition of the report

The above version of S.C. Statehouse Report is the free edition. Our paid version, which costs about $100 per month, offer a weekly legislative forecast packed with information that can keep you and your business on the cutting edge. There's a new limited paid version for individuals that costs about $30 per month. More on subscribing.

Notes veteran lawmaker Sen. Glenn McConnell: "Statehouse Report gives an inside practical report of weekly problems with and progress of legislation. It reviews the whole landscape."

In each issue of Statehouse Report, you'll get:

  • Hot news -- an early peek on something really big that will happen at the Statehouse. We continually beat other news organizations in finding major trends in issues, from teacher and budget cuts to wetlands proposals.
  • Agenda -- a weekly forecast of the coming week's floor agenda
  • Radar Screen -- a behind-the-scenes look at what's really going on in the General Assembly
  • Palmetto Politics -- Tidbits from the world of South Carolina politics.
  • McLemore's World -- an early view of our respected cartoonist Bill McLemore.
  • Tally Sheet -- a weekly review of all of the new bills introduced in the legislature in everyday language
  • Scorecard -- A Thumbs Up and Thumbs Down of major political/policy events for the week.
  • Calendar -- a weekly list of major meetings for the House, Senate and state agencies.
  • Megaphone -- a quote of the week that you'll find illuminating.

To learn more about subscriptions, contact Andy Brack at: brack@statehousereport.com


South Carolina Statehouse Report

Publisher: Andy Brack
Editor: Bill Davis | Assistant Editor: Betsy Brack
Phone: 843.670.3996 Fax: 843.722.9887

Subscription or sponsorship Inquiries: info@statehousereport.com

Have an event for the SC Statehouse Report calendar? E-mail details to: news@statehousereport.com or fax to above number.

For additional information, including subscription prices, go to http://www.statehousereport.com/.

Just a quick note to let you know how you missed out this week. If you were a subscriber to the paid edition of Statehouse Report, you would have received the information below on Friday AND you would have gotten other special features:

  • NEWS: The story behind the ad
  • LEGISLATIVE AGENDA: Conference committees to hit strides
  • RADAR SCREEN: School choice bill up in Senate
  • PALMETTO POLITICS: Diversity of opinion in judicial race
  • TALLY SHEET: Latest bills introduced in House and Senate
  • SCORECARD: Thumbs up and down for the last week
  • MEGAPHONE: Fuggedaboutit

For more information, contact us today about our affordable paid subscriptions for businesses and organizations that need the inside scoop at the Statehouse.

The story behind the ad
From the paid-subscriber issue of Statehouse Report

MAY 25, 2007 -- Tongues wagged in Columbia this week as a statewide pro-manufacturing education campaign featuring legislators from both sides of the Statehouse, both political parties, and all parts of the state continued to roll out without the governor's smiling face attached to it.

Since January, the South Carolina Manufacturers Alliance has spent roughly $300,000 of the $500,000 it received from the state last year to create the "Made in South Carolina" campaign, which seeks to educate citizens about the national products made here.

  • If you subscribed to the full edition of Statehouse Report, you'd get more information on this and much more. Contact us today to learn more.

AVAILABLE NOW: Furman University's Don Gordon has great things to say about Andy Brack's new book of commentaries, "Bugging the Palmettos." Click here to learn more and buy the book -- only $15.00!

Visit Statehouse Report



  Copyright 2007, Statehouse Report LLC, which is affiliated with The Brack Group, Charleston, S.C.
Reproduction is prohibited without express permission of the publisher. For additional information, including subscription prices, go to