The South Carolina House’s first meeting of the Ways and Means Committee this year revealed more depressing information about the state’s budget. The state is looking at a $575 million deficit. Committee Chairman Dan Cooper said that new recurring revenue is almost $200 million short of zero. Cooper says that may quickly turn into still another 4.2 percent cut to state agencies.
Education funding was cut $544 million in this budget. Cooper says $625 million is the level required to fully fund the Base Student Cost. But he said that the entire budget has shrunk and that education funding is still 30 percent of the overall budget, the same as it was.
Democrat Gilda Cobb-Hunter says it’s time for all state lawmakers to step up to the plate. “We have a very difficult job,” she said. “I would like to see us stop ‘kickin’ the can down the road’ and do our job. We have difficult decisions to make and it’s going to be tough.”
Cobb-Hunter says replacing the members of the Board of Economic Advisers would be like changing seats on the Titanic. She says the state needs another system to drive its budget.
Cobb-Hunter says the main thing lawmakers need to do better in dealing with budget woes is to make targeted cuts to state agencies, instead of general ones across the board.