The State Budget is $1.5B Bigger Than You Thought

A BILLION AND A HALF … WAIT – WHAT?

The House Ways and Means Committee has just passed its version of the state budget, and it’s been reported as a $22.7 billion spending plan. That is certainly the number the Ways and Means Committee published on the State House Website.

But we found it curious that, of the three main budget categories – General Fund, Federal Funds, and Other Funds – Federal Funds was around $1 billion less than last year’s ratified state budget. How could this be? Is South Carolina for some reason taking in substantially less money from Washington DC this year? The money seemed to come out of the Department of Social Services, which was likewise down by around $1.5 billion.

In fact, though, if you take a look at page 11 on the online Ways and Means Budget, it appears that the Food Stamps program has been “transferred” to an “unbudgeted account.” Hard to know what such a phrase could mean in a state budget, but there it is. Hence the oddities we noticed are not oddities at all. The actual size of the state budget at this early stage in the process, before the Senate has had a chance to increase it, is already $24.2 billion – larger than last year’s ratified budget by about $600 million. 

We don’t know what this “unbudgeted account” means. What we do know is that South Carolina is taking in more federal money, not less, and that the state budget is growing at a shocking and unprecedented rate.

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