Tag Archives: budget

2009 SC Legislative Wrap-up (BUDGET & SPENDING)

South Carolina Expectation Advisory

In December and January the Voice posted summaries of legislation introduced in the South Carolina State Legislature.

Here, seven months later, is an overview of the status of those and other bills relating to the budget and state spending practices.

(Also look for upcoming reviews of K-12 Education bills, Charter School bills, and Tax bills):

S. 2 Remove and replace state spending cap

This legislation revises this limit by imposing an annual limit on the appropriation of state general fund revenues by adjusting such revenues by a rolling ten-year average in annual changes in general fund revenues and the creation of a separate budget stabilization fund in the state treasury to which must be credited all general fund revenues in excess of the annual limit. The bill was referred to the Senate Finance Committee and did not receive any further action.

S. 72 State agencies and institutions justify dollars from any source

This legislation provides that all state agencies, departments, colleges, universities, institutions, and entities shall report to the general assembly and to the governor on January 15th and July 15th of each year the justification of the dollars from any source that are received by them, and how these dollars are used to provide services to the citizens of the state, and to provide for the administration of and exceptions to this provision. The bill was referred to the Senate Finance Committee and did not receive any further action.

S. 130 Requires budget to have narrative

This legislation requires the Governor’s annual budget recommendation and the reports of the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee on the annual General Appropriations Act to be in a programmatic format by providing a narrative description of each separate program administered by a state agency and providing the elements that must be included in the narrative. The bill was referred to the Senate Finance Committee and did not receive any further action. Continue reading

South Carolina School Updates

Parents in South Carolina support choice

From the Letters section of the Charleston Post and Courier, Monday, March 16, 2009:

Major kudos to Sen. Robert Ford and Rep. Eric Bedingfield for the win/win nature of school choice. During my 14-year stint as a guidance counselor in Charleston County schools, I had the pleasure of working at schools at both ends of the bell curve — those with high ratings and those considered failing.

Contrary to what Jon Butzon and the Rev. Joe Darby believe, those schools with lower socioeconomic student bodies are loaded with extras: personnel, tutors, mentors, coaches, after-school programs, etc. I see this today as I volunteer in a school downtown.

It is high time we quit punishing parents simply because they can’t afford more expensive real estate.

KATIE LINK
Planters Loop
Mount Pleasant Continue reading

K12 News and Policy Roundup

school-supplies

With the start of South Carolina’s legislative session looming, journalists across the state are focusing on K-12 education. That’s because spending on public education (averaging $11,480 per student last year) is the largest single item in the state’s budget. “Public Education” (often confused with the narrower concept of “public schools”) is also a big concern for parents, businessmen and community leaders, all of whom are concerned with inequity and under-performance in South Carolina’s public schools. Among the themes recently reported on:

BUDGET WOES: The already tense debate over budget balancing and spending efficiency is becoming more contentious. The State Newspaper recounted a war of words between State Superintendent Jim Rex and fellow Democrat Representative Harry Ott. Rex wanted a salary freeze for teachers and bus mechanics, Ott wondered why Rex was not willing to cut his own staff before slowing pay adjustments for classroom teachers.

JUDICIAL ACTIVISM: Orangeburg Times and Democrat critically examined the ongoing debate over a bill (and possible constitutional amendment) pushing for a re-write of state educational mandates. The Spartanburg Herald Journal sternly editorialized against the proposal. Continue reading

Pre-Filed K-12 Education Bills (Senate)

bill_becomes_law.jpg

We’ve already looked at the pre-filed K-12 bills in the House, now here is an overview of legislation in the South Carolina Senate:

# S. 99, constitutional amendment; introduction of the so-called “high quality” language into the State Constitution. It calls for a re-write of the State Constitution’s mandates on public education. Authors have suggested that cutting and pasting a few words into the SC Constitution will radically improve the $11,480 per student schools. In actuality, this will do nothing more than invite another expensive and fruitless series of lawsuits, reminiscent of the fruitless 10-year “Corridor of Shame” trials. More details about this controversial proposal here. Sponsor: Matthews (D-Orangeburg).

# S. 129, constitutional amendment – eliminating Commissioner of Agriculture, Adjutant General and Superintendent of Education as elected. The intention is to streamline state government and depoliticize responsibilities for administering government services. Sponsor: Sheheen (D-Kershaw) Continue reading

Pye in the Sky: Dorchester 2 Superintendent Not Living in Real World

dorchester-tower

The idea of an “economic downturn” has yet to penetrate into the consciousness of some South Carolina bureaucrats.

Even though families are cutting costs and tightening their belts, school district administrators are demanding even more money.

Superintendent Joseph Pye is hardly running Dorchester School District 2 on a shoestring budget. The South Carolina Department of Education reports that-in 2007 alone- the district had expenditures of well over $214 million dollars. This amount of spending works out to over $10,000 per student.

Despite this considerable funding, Superintendent Pye had no qualms about demanding that taxpayers in Dorchester County hand over $2.8 million more than the funding required by state law! Continue reading

Lawmakers Turn SC Government Into Pyramid Scheme

Government waste weighs heavily on the backs of the taxpayers.

This week the SC Legislature is considering Governor Sanford’s vetoes to its proposed budget. Total spending from all sources is set to exceed $20 Billion dollars in fiscal year 2008-09.

By the Budget and Control Board’s own numbers, state spending has grown 42 percent in recent years. This is more than twice the growth in median family income (just 17 percent during that same period).

So how does the state stay afloat if spending is growing 2 and 1/2 times faster than the citizen’s ability to pay for it?

Simple: South Carolina’s government is structured like a fraudulent pyramid scheme.

Here is the basic idea:

1. Governments waste money, fail to deliver effective services
2. Citizens pay taxes to finance government waste
3. Quality of life reduced, due to taxation and lack of services
4. Government expands to compensate
5. Higher taxes further reduce quality of life
6. Repeat steps 1 through 5

Not only does government growth inevitably lead to a larger entitlement system, it also receives diminishing returns from family and business tax policies as the private sector shrinks.

But big-spending lawmakers in South Carolina have a few tricks up their sleeves. While the design is fundamentally unsustainable, they are able to keep up the farce with the classic tricks of the financial con man.

See if these look familiar:

1. Perception of initial return on investment
(patronage, budget pork and earmarks)
2. Continual recruitment of new investors
(domestic migration to state)

Ironically, step two is fueled in part by failed government, which keeps standards of living so low that the new residents’ (often retirees) existing wealth carries a higher purchasing power than they are accustomed to.

Add to all this huge federal government subsidies, as well as the ability to hide debt and unfunded liabilities through government-only accounting practices, and lawmakers can continue to grow government with reckless abandon.

The people of South Carolina deserve better. Sadly, the track record of incumbent politicians (lying to constituents, lining the pockets of donors, ignoring the facts, and simply disregarding the will of the people) suggests that change will be hard fought. Take a minute now to contact your legislator and let them know that real reform is your priority.