Balanced Budget-ing

Most people probably know that South Carolina, unlike Washington, D.C., operates under a balanced budget. By law, we cannot spend more than we have. A pretty basic concept really and one that makes sense.

What most people probably don’t know is that the House prepares a budget based off one set of estimates and then the Senate prepares a budget using “newer estimates” (almost always HIGHER REVENUES).

Because of the timing/calendar the Senate’s budget figures always come AFTER the House has passed our version of the budget and BEFORE the Senate passes their budget. Shouldn’t all 170 elected officials be working off the same numbers when appropriating your tax dollars? Why should 46 officials get more money to “work with” than 124 other officials?

I tried to change that last year during the House Budget Debate and actually had the votes for passage; but due to a technical issue, I withdrew my amendment with the agreement my House colleagues would work with me to implement the change this year.

In the coming weeks, we’ll do just that.

The House will work off the revenue estimates from the Board of Economic Advisors like we always have until we have agreed upon our budget. Then, after we pass our version of the budget, the Senate will need to work off the same revenue we approved in the House. Any additional revenue estimates after we pass our House Bill, should then be appropriated in a separate supplemental bill instead of being just thrown in the $6 billion general fund budget the Senate sends back to us. This is simply a way to have all 170 elected officials working off the same sheet of music.

My preference would be to designate any additional revenue to infrastructure or educational needs for our state; but just getting the House and Senate using the same figures when crafting a budget is a good start towards a better, balanced budgeting process.