The Senate enters its fifth week of budget debate next week. Conclusion of what is normally deemed “budget week” has been delayed by mini-filibusters, roll call confusion and the long-held tradition of letting a colleague rant as long as he wants. Senators have stayed with their normal schedule, however, in spite of sluggish debate.
Add to that the state’s economists’ announcement of a revenue surplus of about $200 million. This prompted a fiscal feeding frenzy with senators trying to decide who should have funds restored. The winners so far: education and business. This week, the Senate approved giving $105 million to schools.
Last week, they set aside $100 million to offset high unemployment tax rates to companies across the state. The state owes the federal government almost a $1 billion for helping the state give unemployment benefit extensions. That is being paid back in tax hikes for about two-thirds of the state’s companies.
Sen. Tom Davis of Beaufort takes issue with spending surplus funds and fought to get amendments added late in debate. Thursday, he tried to pass a “tax payer rebate” measure.
Pickens Senator Larry Martin took issue with this approach to excess funds:
The amendment was defeated 23-17.
There is more to to consider on the budget, plus other “hot” bills like tort reform, Amazon.com incentives— and a federally mandated redistricting plan.
The session is set to run out June 2.