Consideration of the new budget got underway on the Senate side, the $5.8 billion appropriations bill began with reports from each Finance subcommittee chair and Finance Chair Hugh Leatherman (R-Florence) gave his pre-debate pep talk, in his distinctive style:
Senate Majority Leader Harvey Peeler (R-Cherokee) says this year’s budget discussion should be improved by better documentation of funding requests, especially decisions about spending of federal and “other funds.” He credits Sen. David Thomas (R-Greenville) of working to put more attention on these parts of the budget that are overseen outside of the incoming tax revenue.
Other highlights from the budget preview:
-Sen. Mike Fair (R-Greenville) revealed there are no appropriations for merging Probation, Pardon and Parole with the Department of Corrections. That was a priority of Gov. Nikki Haley, but the bill got stymied in the House. Fair says the legislative groundwork to restructure the agencies got caught up in a bill backlog. Under Senate rules, budget items cannot change permanent law.
-Sen. Vincent Sheheen (D-Kershaw) took issue with how ETV funding is set up, making the other agencies pay the network for its services.
-Sen. Glenn McConnell called questioned an item that allows the executive director of the Budget and Control Board to transfer funds from any other accounts in that agency to keep up the South Carolina Enterprise Information System (SCEIS) — an authority he says is unconstitutional.
The Senate will extend its hours for a few days this week to get through the spending plan.