The Budget and Control Board says it will not take action until next year on more than $260 million in deficits across state agencies. State Treasurer Converse Chellis says over the years the system has become something it wasn’t created to be.
Everybody wants to have a better mouse trap. They come up and they want to just do something as a better mouse trap, well our system, if you got back enough years back, which would be about 150 or 200 years, it wasn’t broke when it started. They had a good system going, but we’ve made so many changes and additions to it, our system now has evolved into this massive spending program that we just don’t have the money to spend.
The Budget and Control Board says it will wait to take action on the $228 million deficit in the Department of Health and Human Services’ Medicaid Program, a nearly $29 million deficit at the Department of Social Services, and a $7 million deficit at the Department of Corrections. Chellis says today’s meeting was very detailed.
It was a very lengthy debate about it. Because we have a new change in administration with a new governor coming in, apparently she has some ideas. The chairman of Senate Finance thought it would be best to look at what those ideas are before we make any major decisions on allowing a deficit to be spent.
Board member and Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee Hugh Leatherman says Governor-elect Nikki Haley should have the opportunity to weigh in on the state’s deficits before any action is taken.
The Department of Health and Human Services’ deficit is quite substantial at $228 million, and Chellis says the agency expects things in the department to change.
The deficit in there is an actual deficit and the head, she is very concerned over it that there are going to be services absolutely cut that she will not have the money to spend on.
And, as these agencies struggles to make ends meet, Chellis says there is a little glimmer of hope:
There are some good things there. Because of some procedures we put in place last year with our deficit spending, in other words, we did not allow it and we also cut off another 2 percent off our budget. We ended up the year with a $71 million surplus, so that’s carrying forward to the current year.
The next legislative session begins January 12.