Budgets – Cuts, Spending and You

Budgets - Cuts, Spending and YouBy Paul Gable

The expenditure of public tax dollars will be the focus of discussions throughout the state over the next several months as the state and local government budgets are finalized for the upcoming fiscal year.

This is crunch time for the individual taxpayer and a process that every citizen should be aware of but, unfortunately, relatively few will pay any attention.

We would include the federal government here if it ever decided to pass a budget, but continuing funding resolutions combined with the infamous sequestration is the best they can do in the nation’s capital.

One item of note, sequestration was supposed to cut spending by federal agencies across the board, no exceptions. However, that is not true.

One example is the Department of Energy’s Savannah River Site in Aiken. Reduced hours for the remainder of the fiscal year (a 20% payroll deduction) for the over 2,000 employees at the site is supposed to be the rule for the remainder of the current fiscal year.

However, reprogramming of funds, a type of federal three card monte with government funds, is in the process to attempt to end the reductions in work hours suffered by the employees.

And that is just a microcosm of a process going on throughout the country as the federal government tries to eliminate the supposed pain of sequestration cuts. So far, it seems to be more smoke and mirrors than anything else.

I don’t want to see the average working man and woman, whether government or private, suffer a loss of income either, especially at this critical economic time. But, if cuts aren’t really cuts what are they?

The General Assembly is supposedly wrestling with the question of how to fund road and bridge maintenance that is woefully overdue throughout South Carolina. This was supposed to be one of the major issues at the state level during this legislative session.

We’ll see. Last month, the S.C. Board of Economic Advisors announced general fund revenues are up by 12% this year over last. That is an extra $467.8 million in revenue through the end of February when measured against the year before.

Will legislators use this money for needed projects, such as roads and bridges, or will the old pork barrel roll out in Columbia like it usually does and pet projects of legislators take precedence?

Stay tuned, we’ll try to keep you advised.

Leave a Comment