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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1.07: Lottery spending regs on the table
(Week of Feb. 19, 2002)

FEB. 15, 2002 - - As the Senate takes up a bill on how to spend lottery revenues during the week of Feb. 15, negotiators will be hard at work behind the scenes to craft a compromise on how to spend the money.

They'd better hurry. If they don't come up with something quickly, the House may take momentum from the Senate by announcing its own plan when it publishes its proposed 2002-2003 budget toward the end of the week.

As it stands, Senate Republicans have been bickering about whether to buy new school buses with lottery revenues. Many of those supportive of Lt. Gov. Bob Peeler's gubernatorial campaign want bus funding included in lottery spending; others say it's not appropriate.

There are a lot of competing priorities for how to use the estimated $123 million in recurring lottery revenues and $67 million in one-time revenues available from revenues generated from the opening of the lottery last month until June 30. [The Lottery Commission infused its first revenue payment of more than $13 million into state coffers during the week of Feb. 11].

What a compromise may look like. Legislators are considering a host of alternatives. A final compromise may look something like this:

  • Expansion of the Life Scholarship. Lawmakers are talking about expanding the Life Scholarship for college students to the $5,000 range. Expected cost: $45 million.

  • Creation of the Hope Scholarship. Lawmakers also expect to create a $3,000 Hope scholarship for college freshmen, which could be converted to a Life scholarship for sophomore-senior years based on meeting certain standards. Expected cost: $6 million.

  • Palmetto Scholarship. This premier state scholarship for good students would rise to $7,500 annually. Expected cost: $7 million.

  • Technical college scholarships. Students in technical schools would not have to pay tuition. At issue are criteria and academic restrictions for students to ensure tech colleges aren't overloaded with applicants. Expected cost: $41 million to $61 million.

  • Endowed chairs. A proposal to fund endowed chairs at the three leading research institutions to attract world-class professors has momentum, but also has gained some opposition among other four-year institutions. A compromise may allow four-year schools to partner with research universities to "share" endowed professors. Expected cost: $10 million to $30 million.

  • Technology improvements for four-year colleges. Also being discussed is a fund to provide technological improvements at four-year colleges. Expected cost: $10 million to $20 million.

  • K-12 technology improvements. There's also a push in some circles to use some recurring lottery funds to make technology improvements at primary and secondary schools. Expected cost: $3 million to $8 million.

  • Non-performing schools. Some also are discussing using lottery revenues to fund teacher specialists for schools rated as non-performing. Funding from some source is called for in the Education Accountability Act. Expected cost: Up to $10 million.

If all of the above programs were funded at the maximum level, the state would need $187 million. If each were funded at the lower range, the state would need $132 million.

Because there are more needs than money, there's also talk of rolling in legislation to add Powerball games to the lottery, a move that would provide more than $20 million extra in recurring funds.

One-time revenues cause friction. Perhaps the most friction is around spending $67 million in non-recurring lottery revenues generated this year. Competing priorities include:

  • School buses -- $10 million to $40 million. Senate Democrats and some Republicans say bus funding should come from bonds.

  • ETV digital conversion -- $18.5 million. This funding is required for Educational TV to convert to digital technology, as required by the FCC.

  • Endowed chairs.

  • One-time technology grants to colleges.

  • Reserve. There's talk of a special reserve fund for scholarships in case future revenues drop to ensure scholarships are funded -- $7 million estimate.

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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