SHARE

Details of the seven percent spending cut that South Carolina lawmakers will vote on in emergency session next week are nearly complete, sources tell FITSNews, as House Ways & Means Chairman Dan Cooper and Senate Finance Chairman Hugh Leatherman have been working with each other all week to get a package together that they can sell their respective committees.

We actually saw the spreadsheets sitting on the front passenger seat of Leatherman’s pimp ride earlier today, but we figured breaking into the “Little Digger’s” car was probably outside the bounds of respectable journalism … a rare moment of restraint on our part.

Anyway, according to the sources we spoke with, an unlikely winner in the budget-cutting process will be the State Department of Corrections, which may not only avoid cuts, but could actually see money added to its budget … which makes sense considering the Department is currently running a deficit.

Losers in the process are rumored to be the Department of Motor Vehicles, which will almost certainly see its $100 million surplus rolled into other agencies, and the Department of Health and Human Services – which lawmakers stripped of over $45 million in Medicaid reserve funds in the current budget to spread out to other health care agencies.

Health and Human Services currently has $51 million in two separate reserve funds – one of which was frozen by the Budget and Control Board.

All of that money is likely to be taken as well and spread over other agencies, which is yet another reason why it’s so ridiculous that South Carolina has eight different health care agencies.

Other losers? Clemson University – which had been secretly stockpiling a reserve fund of nearly $140 million while jacking tuition on South Carolina parents – and other institutions of higher education.

Again, this raises an important structural question. Our state-supported colleges and universities get about 16% of all state funding compared to a 10.5% average for other states.

Why so high? Well, South Carolina has 33 public colleges and universities – and 80 different campus locations – an obscenely-high number of schools for a state as small as ours.

Of course nobody’s talking about cutting utterly worthless schools like USC-Salkahatchie or USC-Union, which is one of the quickest ways to consolidate our scarce higher ed resources where they’ll do the most good.

Also, no word yet on whether lawmakers plan on getting rid of taxpayer-funded lobbyists or their pet project slush fund.

Stay tuned to FITS as previews of the state budget “cuts” keep ‘a comin’ … and as always, remember that it’s really hard to call any of these budget reductions “cuts” after lawmakers grew government by more than 40% over the last four years.

Oh, and if any of you decide to take a crowbar to Leatherman’s window, just remember we protect our sources around here. :)