Budget Watch 2011: The Spending Train Returns

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Government spending grew every year from 2002 to 2009. In 2010, the overall budget decreased by less than a half of 1 percent – not because lawmakers cut spending, but because revenues dropped. This year’s budget continues down the same path…

  • South Carolina lawmakers are on track to pass the largest budget in state history. It’s $1.37 billion more than last year’s total budget.
  • Every part of this year’s budget is larger than last year’s – the General Fund is up by $957 million, Fines and Fees are up by $246 million, and Federal Funds are up by $168 million.
  • With the economy still on the ropes, the General Fund alone is set to grow a record 19 percent.
  • Combined, federal, state, and local government spending in South Carolina amounts to 40.5 percent of the state economy.
  • Over the last ten years, state spending has grown at almost twice the rate of incomes. State spending grew by 44 percent while per capita income increased by only 24 percent.
  • As spending has grown, the state’s economy has faltered. South Carolina has one of the slowest rates of private sector growth in the nation.
  • The budget has increased faster than inflation in 7 of the last 10 years.
  • In this year’s budget, Medicaid spending has gone from $724 million to $917 million – a 26 percent increase.
  • South Carolina government is more than $40 billion in debt – 22 percent of the economy. That’s the 4th highest in the nation.
  • Amount of anticipated surplus this year’s budget will return to taxpayers: $0.00.

Legislators are insisting that state government “can’t afford” to return any surplus revenues to the taxpayer. Instead, here are just a few of the ways they’re planning to spend your money . . .

  • Tourism marketing campaigns
  • “Economic development” schemes
  • A state plane
  • Recruiting filmmakers
  • Private trade associations
  • The Boll Weevil Eradication Program
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