$22.5 Billion…and growing?

I want to share with you a five-minute clip that I hope will give you, in layman’s terms, a look inside the largest budget passed by a SC General Assembly.

While everyone has their opinions (some saying it’s conservative ; others saying it’s not ), I wanted you to see a floor discussion (not really a “debate”) so that you can maybe decide for yourself (if you haven’t already).

By now, you probably know the 2011-2012 Budget passed by the slimmest of votes. The House passed it by only 3 votes. The Senate passed it by only 7 votes.

I voted “no” on the budget after it came back from the Senate; but instead of attacking or grandstanding my position, I simply asked questions (which is how we state our position usually when not at the podium) to the former Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. You’ll see he replied accordingly and the vote was taken after this clip. You’ll hear the Speaker add to our discussion by sharing more information about how much control we may/may not have over certain parts of the budget.

For reference: H.4657 (“the 2010-2011 budget”) appropriated and authorized $21.1 Billion. When it was all said and done; however, the budget became $21.8 Billion.

H.3066 (“the 2011-2012 budget”) appropriates and authorized $21.9 Billion; however, when it’s all said and done it will at least be $22.5 Billion.

You may ask how the budget “grows” from what we pass the SC General Assembly may “appropriate and authorize”.,

As a very simple example: Let’s say an agency is funded by “Other Funds” (aka fees and not a line item in the General Funds portion of the budget). Suppose that agency comes to budget writers with a basic premise that said agency will “sell 1,000 licenses this year and that each license costs $10”. If approved, that goes into the budget and, assuming we notice, said agency is appropriated $10,000 in the budget. We vote. We leave. Then what? What if that agency ends up “selling 2,000 licenses”? That’s actually $20,000. But we (General Assembly) only appropriated $10,000. Where does the extra $10,000 go? Almost always, it goes to that agency…while we’re away out of session.

To our credit, the House began to work on ways to reform “Other Funds” this year and I hope we do even more next year. While the General Funds portion of the budget hovers around $6 Billion, the Federal Funds portion and the Other Funds portion both hover around $8 Billion each.

In a year that started with what many considered would be an $800 million (or almost $1 Billion) shortfall, it quickly turned into more funds than ever before. While we did make wise choices on certain line items and while we can debate how much we “control” the Federal Funds and Other Funds portions of the budget; I don’t feel we can argue we just witnessed the passage of the largest budget in history.