South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford released his final executive budget at a press conference in Spartanburg Tuesday.
Among the more than $265 million in cuts is a line that would trim state employees’ salaries by five percent.
Sanford, whose term ends next week, says total state spending has grown overall in the past year. While the legislature’s discretionary spending will be significantly less next year (at a little over $5 billion), Sanford says the state’s total budget is at a record-high $23 billion.
Sanford’s budget recommendations are not binding. It will be his successor, Nikki Haley, who will submit her recommendations to the Legislature. The House and Senate will then draft the operating budget for the state’s General Fund. After both houses approve, the final budget goes to the governor’s office for Haley’s approval or rejection.
Haley said she would look at Sanford’s proposal when she crafts her own recommendations for lawmakers. She said her own version would likely “go a little further,” and she would consult with legislative leaders beforehand.
Sanford’s budget recommends an overall reduction of at least $266 million in state spending in a $5.3 billion budget. Among the recommendations is a line that would slash five percent off the salary of any state employee making over $35,000 annually.
Sanford defended the cut.
If you’re in this kind of budget time, I think we’ve got to sacrifice even down to the employee level. I know it’s controversial.
The report estimates $55 million in savings from the pay cuts, although it says the state would save over $155 million in unfunded liabilities in the long term.
Sanford’s proposal also calls for consolidating school districts, which he says would save $26 million. It also recommends combining the administrative functions at technical colleges into regional centers, which the report claims would save nearly $23 million.