The South Carolina legislature has come out with a working budget for next year. While it’s a long way off from being finalized, it does show where legislators plan to focus spending cuts at a time the state faces a $700 million revenue shortfall.
The House Ways & Means Committee approved the budget Thursday. The final $5.2 billion dollars in general fund spending will largely consist of cuts to Medicaid and education. The decrease in entitlements, colleges, and public schools spending are not surprising, as those make up a large part of the state’s budget.
Much of the Medicaid cuts will come from lowering provider rates–what the state pays hospitals to treat Medicaid patients. However, lowering the rates requires both the House and the Senate’s permission. The Senate granted the authority in a Thursday vote. The Department of Health and Human Services also plans to end some rehabilitation services and switch over to generic drugs to save additional money. In total, the agency took cuts of more than $200 million.
Public schools lost $114 million in funding, largely the result of federal stimulus funds that expire after June 30. However, the state’s per-pupil funding increased slightly to $4,700 each. The Department of Education also saved $19 million from reducing a stipend it gives to teachers who receive National Board certification. Committee members were able to pad the revenue numbers a bit by allocating $52 million in revenue from a cigarette tax that went into effect last year. Legislators are holding on to another $70 million from that fund, in case DHHS needs additional money before the fiscal year ends.
(See the proposed budget here)
State colleges were also hit by the ending stimulus funds. The University of South Carolina lost more than $17 million, although legislators added $9 million in maintenance and capital projects funding to cushion the sting. Ditto for Clemson, which saw more than $10 million in cuts, but received $6 million for its projects.
The proposed budget also ends all discretionary funding for ETV. The state will continue to pay the network through several contracts it already holds.
Several agencies also took hard cuts. The Department of Health and Environmental Control lost nearly $18 million in funding, the Department of Social Services slashed its budget by $28 million, and the Department of Natural Resources saw cuts of $7 million.
The budget now heads to the House floor, where it will be taken up in March.