The state Budget and Control Board today heard once again from new HHS Director Tony Keck, who says he is able to make cuts, but not enough to eliminate the agency’s $125 million deficit. In the past meeting, the board agreed to “spot’ the agency $100 million with the hopes that Keck could remedy the remaining $125 million.
Keck today reported he has enough money to get through May 13 of this year. He told the board that he could get the remaining debt down to about $117 million. The board agreed to another $100 shortfall for SC DHHS.
State Treasurer Curtis Loftis suggested the board send the deficit question back to the Legislature.
This is $117 million dollars and I think it’s a lot of money. I’m prepared to lose this vote like I lose them all. But I just think that the people who have the holistic view of the budget, the people who are the closest to the people of South Carolina..they know what the people want.
He said, ” There is no better impetus to act that to have a big, huge bill dropped in your lap.”
The other members disagreed, saying the Legislature gave the Budget and Control Board the authority to quickly handle questions like this. Haley told him the legislature will be advised of the board’s plans and can act on it any way they want.
Board member and Senate Finance Chairman Hugh Leatherman added, “In this case the board is the safeguard for our triple-A credit rating.” He says the board’s ability to take immediate action was cited by two of the ratings companies as a reason for the state’s good credit status.
Keck is still requesting a change to a legislative proviso that prevents him from cutting an additional three percent in provider payments. The bill to lift that proviso has been passed by the Senate and is in the House now.