State budget compromise attempts have stalled as the House and Senate disagree over a couple of items: $20 million in small business tax break and how much funding to allow for a piece of property at the State Farmers Market.
So Monday, the Senate passed a special resolution to keep state government running if lawmakers miss the July 1 deadline, marking the beginning of a new budget year.
Senate Finance Chairman Hugh Leatherman (R-Florence), chairman of the conference committee, asked the Senate to pass a continuing resolution.
“I don’t think this Senate can take the chance to not have something in place that will keep your government working until we can reach a compromise,” Leatherman told the Senate Monday. “How long will it take? I don’t know. I hope not long.”
The House and Senate are back in Columbia Tuesday to await a final version of the $6.7 billion spending plan for year 2012-13.
Leatherman says he did not want to ask for this stopgap resolution, “but I just think we owe it to our citizens to make absolutely sure we don’t shut government down and take the safety of our people away, whether it be SLED or the Highway Patrol or whatever.”
State government would not shut down if they did not reach a budget agreement–there is money there–but the spending would be at last year’s level, which would mean cuts to school districts and health insurance to children not included in last year’s budget.
House Minority Leader Harry Ott (D-Calhoun) today argued on committee with Leatherman, saying an agreement could have already been reached on the business tax break if the Senate would agree to extend that cost into next year.
Leatherman is adamantly opposed to adding anything at this point that extends beyond next year’s spending. He told South Carolina Radio Network that he has not allowed that kind of addition to the budget to happen since 2001 and “that is not going to happen now.”