S.C. Gov. Mark Sanford released his final executive budget Wednesday afternoon recommending a record $22.75 billion spending plan. The governor's plan recommends a 7.5 percent increase over the current state budget.
"I don't think we're out of the woods, " says Gov. Mark Sanford. "I want to be very, very clear that we have predicted this for a long-time."
The governor's budget recommendation includes $700 million in federal stimulus cash the governor fought a losing battle in federal and state courts last year to block. The governor argued at the time that borrowing more money to stimulate the economy would worsen government debt.
The governor's plan recommends spending $5.84 billion in general fund revenue. In the proposal: more than $218 million will go to college scholarships and need-based grants, $58.3 million will go to public safety for increased highway traffic enforcement, and $4 million will be sent to the commerce department to help attract capital investment and jobs.
"If we're going to talk about a robust economy with jobs and economic development," say Sanford, "it's important we not cut commerce to the extent that it was cut last year."
Multiple state agencies have raised concerns the $1.5 billion slashed from the state general fund during the past two years due to the recession poses a threat to core services.
"If there is any year for additional savings," says Sanford, "it's this year."
Sanford recommends $255 million in cuts, which include: more than $100 million from Health and Human Services, state employees will have a mandatory two-day furlough for a savings of $25 million, and 91 Department of Education administrative positions will be eliminated.
Sanford would also slash the corporate income tax, However, some lawmakers think it'll take a lot more than cost-cutting proposals to get the state operating at an efficient level.
"There's no question that right now, eight years of Mark Sanford has put this train in a ditch," says Representative Todd Rutherford. "We need to get the train back out of the ditch before we start doing something as drastic as cutting the corporate income tax."
"The more ideas on how to deal with that, the better off we all are," said House Speaker Bobby Harrell.
On Thursday, Sanford vowed he would work with the legislature to make the necessary reforms to avoid further budget cuts.
While general fund revenues have declined sharply, the total state budget is comprised of three categories: general funds, federal funds, and fine and fee revenue.
Total spending when all three categories are included has increased in each of the past three years, largely due to federal aid and state fee increases. When all three categories of spending are considered, the total amount of state spending has grown by 7 percent since 2008.
State Budget History
- 2010-2011 Proposed Executive Budget: $22.75 billion
- 2009-2010 State Budget: $21.1 billion
- 2008-2009 State Budget: $19.8 billion
- 2007-2008 State Budget: $20.2 billion
- 2006-2007 State Budget: $19.1 billion