Budget Watch 2011 – Fiscal Sanity Alert
Legislators are almost finished with the state budget. Here’s a taste of what’s in it…
- We’re still on track to pass the largest budget in state history – $652 million more than last year
- Every part of this year’s budget is larger than last year’s – the General Fund is up by $238 million, Fines and Fees/Other Funds are up by $246 million, and money from Washington, D.C. is up by $168 million.
- $5 million to seven “economic development councils” and four counties. Some of the very legislators who allocated this money sit on the boards of these “councils.”
- At least $1.3 million for regional “tourism promotion” – including $175,000 to various Chambers of Commerce like the scandal-plagued Myrtle Beach Chamber.
- Agencies are still free to use taxpayer dollars to fund lobbyists.
- Millions directed to ETV by forcing state agencies to contract with the state-owned broadcaster.
- An unspecified amount for a state plane.
- Grants – each one worth at least $150,000 – to private trade associations in the automotive, construction, engineering, and hospitality industries.
- Tax rebates for Hollywood producers, and additional money for the Department of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism to “recruit” filmmakers.
- The creation of new government programs like the SC Institute of Medicine, a new entity controlled by the legislative leadership, and the SC Reading Achievement Systemic Initiative.
- For the sixth year in a row, half-a-million dollars each is allocated, not to building new roads (I-73/74), but to figuring out whether these roads are a good idea. Similarly: money is allocated, not to privatizing South Carolina’s oldest-in-the-nation bus fleet, but to “studying” the issue.
- The State Ports Authority can continue to use taxpayer dollars for advertising – referred to as a “cargo diversification strategy.”