The Palmetto Insider

The blog of the South Carolina Policy Council

The Real Story on South Carolina’s Stealth Budget

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Policy Council President Ashley Landess was quoted in Sunday’s Greenville News where she stated that many in the General Assembly do not have an accurate view of how money is being spent. 

“Ashley Landess, president of the S.C. Policy Council, a non-profit research group that has studied the total funds issue, said legislators don’t know how much of the money in the total budget is being spent because they only review details of the general fund. She said many legislators didn’t even know that agencies were using that much money until her organization published a report on the issue in February.

“’The ridiculousness of this just cannot be overstated,’ she argued. ‘There is a fair debate here about what we as citizens want to pay for. But we can’t possibly hold that debate until we know every dime that is being spent and we know where it’s going.’”

The Greenville News report examined the fact that most legislators only know about the General Fund budget, which represents less than one third of the total funds being spent by South Carolina’s government.

“’Government has been growing, and it’s grown at a rate far faster than inflation and income levels,’ she said. ‘You cannot prove that government isn’t growing by how many people are getting a paycheck.

“State government spends money on things other than employees, she said.

“’There is so much money being funneled into places/programs we can’t see, especially through the universities,’ she argued. ‘And millions to lawyers, lobbyists, PR consultants, advertising agencies.’”

The Greenville News article revealed that, some lawmakers argued that recent budget cuts would lead to widespread furloughs and layoffs and might trigger agencies to ask to run deficits. In reality, “legislative budget figures show that while the general fund portion of the budget has indeed shrunk in recent years, the total budget has increased. In fact, the current year’s budget of $20.7 billion before the cuts is the second highest in the state’s history,” the article reported.

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Written by SC Policy Council

December 21, 2009 at 11:23 am

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