Policy: Budgets & Deficits

South Carolina has $440 million more for government next year

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Associated Press,South Carolina,Budgets and Deficits

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina expects to have another $440 million in tax revenue next year.

The Board of Economic Advisors this week released its first revenue forecast for the coming budget year, The State newspaper reported.

The state's problem is that it has more than $1 billion in requests for additional spending.

Gov. Nikki Haley, early next year, will recommend a spending plan to lawmakers, who will make the final decisions in the spring.

A spokesman for the governor said the additional revenue is an indication that the state's economy is continuing to grow.

"With unemployment in South Carolina at a 5-year low, we see continued slow and steady growth over the next 20 months," said Economic Advisors chairman Chad Waldorf.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Hugh Leatherman of Florence says the forecast is more than he expected. But there are always more requests than money available, Leatherman said.

He pointed out the Department of Health and Human Services has requested $155 million just to keep up with growth in the state's Medicaid insurance program for low-income South Carolinians.

There is "nothing we can really do about" those higher costs, Leatherman said. "That will take a good chunk of money off the top."

Other requests for the fiscal year beginning July 1 include $1.4 million for four new judges, $10 million toward a new statewide voting system and $17 million for the Commerce Department to attract businesses to South Carolina.

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