State senators approved legislation Tuesday that would keep South Carolina’s state government running if legislators cannot agree on a budget before the new fiscal year starts.
A conference committee of three state senators and three House members is negotiating a budget compromise between the two chambers.
Senate President Pro Tem Hugh Leatherman, R-Florence, said the conference committee is trying hard to reach an agreement, but there are some challenges. “Every member of that conference committee is negotiating in good faith, but there are still differences,” Leatherman said Tuesday on the floor of the Senate.
Some of the main sticking points between the House and Senate versions of the $8 billion General Fund budget including how much money should go towards economic development instead of higher education. Another point of contention is how to fund increased retirement benefits in the state pension system after lawmakers made changes to the system earlier this year.
“Everyone has worked in good faith, but there are several philosophical differences that must be reconciled and negotiated,” Leatherman said.
The legislation would temporarily fund the government, if no deal is reached by the end of the current fiscal year after June 30. House members could vote on the member once they return to session.
Leatherman said he sees legislation to keep the state government running as just as a ‘backstop.’ “I won’t ever, ever be a party to closing down government denying services to people,” he said. He said he doesn’t expect it to be necessary.
There is just a little over five weeks before the state’s fiscal year starts on July 1.