PALMETTO STATE JUST CAN’T HELP ITSELF
Earlier this month we published a column entitled “The Lost Decade” which documented how the growth of South Carolina’s government had far outpaced the ability of taxpayers to support it under “Republican rule.” From 2001-2011, state government grew by 27.7 percent (after adjusting for inflation). Meanwhile median household income over the same time period actually contracted by 5.4 percent (again, after adjusting for inflation).
What has this massive investment produced? Chronically high unemployment, shamefully inadequate academics and one of the most corrupt, dysfunctional government in America.
Anyway, over the last two years this failed approach has been ramped up dramatically – with $1.3 billion in new money being spent on government growth in FY 2011-12 and as much as $1.4 billion in new money projected to be spent in the coming fiscal year.
Tax relief? Don’t kid yourself … state lawmakers are currently quibbling over a $60 million “tax cut” that represents one quarter of one percent of the state budget.
So … how does the Palmetto State’s addiction to government growth compare with the rest of the nation?
Seriously … isn’t this state supposed to be a bedrock of Republican rule? The “reddest state in the nation?”
Well, we already knew that heading into the recent recession South Carolina had the tenth largest government in America when measured on a per capita basis. And we also knew that the state used more than $4.2 billion worth of “stimulus” money during the recession to keep right on growing.
And we know that this year’s growth is likely to be somewhere in the 4-6 percent range.
But how fast are other state governments growing?
That’s easy … they’re not.
In fact they’re shrinking. According to a USA Today analysis of data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, state and local spending nationwide is down by 0.8 percent this year in actual dollars – and down by 2.7 percent after adjusting for inflation.
“In a contrast to the federal fiscal turmoil, most state budgets are passing smoothly, on-time and balanced, while influential groups are seeing their requests for money denied,” the analysis found. “Today, both Republicans and Democrats are rejecting spending requests even from traditional allies – police, businesses, teachers, doctors and others – and keeping budgets balanced as federal aid recedes.”
In most states … but not this one. Once again, South Carolina is betting long on big government … not the economy. Anyone care to guess what the outcome of that approach will be?
Because our money (literally) is on another “Lost Decade …”