Budget Week – This, That, and What to Expect

The General Assembly reconvened today at noon and quickly adjourned for the day after the procedural “reading of the recisison bill” across the desk.

As mentioned before , we’re looking at roughly a HALF A BILLION dollars in budget cuts. As, I’ve also shared before, we’re not the only state facing these tough decisions.

To put things in perspective (for example only), we would have had to zero-out 20+ agencies budgets completely to accomplish that if we didn’t do targeted cuts to every agency. That would include completely cutting all USC satellite campuses, Winthrop, Francis Marion, College of Charleston (or is it Charleston University). Only the technical schools, USC, Clemson, and MUSC would have survived.

We’re also actually cutting 7% instead of 6% in order to hopefully spare additional cuts later.

It’s important to know that in about 60 days, the new session begins in Columbia so we’ll be back soon enough to address the budget again – if needed.

State law requires the reading of the appropriations act on three separate days and today was the first reading. Here’s a look at a possible schedule so that targeted budget cuts can happen before the default goes back to the 3% across-the-board cuts the Budget and Control Board approved recently.

Monday: House gives first reading

Tuesday: House reconvenes at 9:30 a.m. for second reading (with unanimous consent for third reading on Wednesday, we can go home and save the taxpayers a little money by not having to stick around until Wednesday. Of course, many of us are not taking any pay this week).

Wednesday: House gives third reading and Senate then gives first reading

Thursday: Senate gives second reading

Friday: Senate gives third reading (IF there are any Senate amendments, the House then comes back Friday to take those up as well).

Assuming the House/Senate agree this week, the changes go to the Governor who will have until midnight the following Thursday to either (a) sign the bill (b) veto the entire bill (c) line-item veto or (d) let become law without his signature.

Should the General Assembly need to address any vetos, we’d come back October 31st to take those up. (Yes, I can see the mailers going out now against incumbents….Halloween, Trick or Treat, etc).

In addition to the budget cuts, we also will be taking up the veto on the “DNA Bill”. The Senate has it first (today) and, if they override the veto, the House will take it up Tuesday. One thing to note: that bill would cost a few million dollars. IF we’re going to vote to override it, look for us to put language in the budget bill that says basically “if no funding, no action on the bill.”