February 2002

Phone: 843.670.3996


2002-2004, South Carolina Statehouse Report. Published weekly during the S.C. legislative session. South Carolina Statehouse Report is a media project of The Brack Group, Charleston, S.C.

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1.06: State agencies could face big budget cuts
(Week of Feb. 12, 2002)

FEB. 8, 2002 -- When the state Board of Economic Review today announces much-awaited fiscal projections for the state, House lawmakers will have the information they've been waiting on to start crafting a budget in the tightest year in memory.

Unless BEA estimates are far rosier than expected, lawmakers are expected to make do with about $500 million less to meet recurring needs, increased costs from growth and increased demands. Sources with ties close to the House leadership say that means most state agencies could face cuts of 8 to 10 percent - a particularly difficult task after cuts in the current year approached 4 percent. Excluded agencies may be education, public safety (for homeland security) and those dealing with health and human services.

In January, Gov. Jim Hodges proposed a budget that sought savings in three areas to stave drastic agency and services cuts:

  • Have agencies find savings of at least 3 percent in their budgets.
  • Adjust payment schedules at the end of the budget year in June to carry forward some funds.
  • Borrow from accounts with cash balances to pay for needed expenses.

Republicans roundly criticized the governor's plan. But unless they develop new revenue sources (unlikely), they'll face big cuts or the alternative:

"They've got to adopt some of our suggestions or cut $500 million," one key gubernatorial aide said.

The process ahead. During the week of Feb. 12, House Ways & Means Committee members will meet to discuss proposed budget provisos - guidelines for how to spend state funds within agencies. For weeks, agencies have been meeting with members to request internal priorities. In the following week, six Ways & Means subcommittee chairmen are expected to meet with Ways & Means Committee chairman Bobby Harrell in closed-door sessions to devise a balanced budget proposal. It is expected to be ready by the end of the week of Feb. 19.

Next, the budget will be printed, which will take a week. Then the budget bill has to sit on members' desks for a week to allow members to process what it means. Look for House floor debate to start during the week of March 12.

11/3: Use your vote wisely: a lesson
10/27: SC GOP to keep control of House
10/20: Black voters may be secret weapon
10/13: Talk is cheap; action takes courage
10/6: Creating sunshine to dampen negative ads
9/29: SC Set to be world leader in news research
9/22: SC Senate shift could be around corner
9/15: Gov's race about barbs, ads, not people
9/8: Shorfall may cause look at prison alternatives
9/2: Revitalize your patriotism by participating
8/25: S.C.'s fiscal situation could be a lot worse
8/18: State wetlands policy needed
8/11: The bully vs. the whiner
8/4: Noah's Ark approach to tax reform
7/28: Two-party system could be political outcome
7/21: State budget woes loom for 2 more years
7/14: Agencies can do better job on Internet
7/5: Thank a guardsman today for service
6/28: Hodges-Sanford race will be wild ride
6/21: Sanford-Peeler race's impact on GOP
6/14: Ethics reform needed now

More done than you'd think(1.23)
More education $ also means cuts (1.22)
PSC reform to come, but when?(1.21)



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