The state Senate will return to consideration of the state budget this week. One item set to return to debate Tuesday is an amendment by Beaufort Senator Tom Davis to refund to taxpayers any excess revenue. He explained his reasons:
I don’t want to get this bill (the budget) out of whack, I know how hard Senate Finance Chairman’s worked, all the subcommittee chairmen have worked. But as the economy continues to improve throughout the year –and I pray that it does improve–and if revenues come in, in excess of projections by the BEA, upon which this bill is predicated, I want those dollars to go back to the private sector. I fundamentally believe that those dollars, that capital can be more efficiently allocated in the private sector and that is the reason for my amendment.
He takes issue with the overall budget being $652 million more than last year. Last week, Senate Finance Chair Hugh Leatherman, grilled Davis on his idea, saying the higher budget numbers are not because of extra revenue, but because of instances of federal pass-through dollars.
Davis says if the economy improves, the state needs to cap spending now before it grows back to unsustainable levels and requires a new round of cuts in future years.
Leatherman says the state’s taxpayers pay less on average per capita than any other state. The Senate is set to return to Davis’s amendment on Tuesday. He says he re-drew the amendment more tightly so that it is likely to survive a point of order challenge.