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sc state house budget

By FITSNews || The South Carolina budget is facing a $213 million shortfall due to the federal government’s failure to extend a provision of last year’s so-called “stimulus” – a sizable funding imbalance that has caught lawmakers completely flat-footed.

What’s creating the shortfall?

Well, federal lawmakers in Washington, D.C. are balking on approving a six-month extension of the Federal Medicaid Assistance Percentage (or FMAP), a key provision of last year’s bureaucratic bailout that permitted states to draw down additional federal dollars to spend on various health care expenses.  Needless to say, South Carolina lawmakers were counting on this money to fund a variety of government programs – including several of the non-essential variety.

Now, it’s looking like the FMAP extension – which is worth $25 billion nationally (and $213 million to South Carolina lawmakers) – isn’t going to happen.

Down in Florida, where $880 million is on the line, an email from one of Gov. Charlie Crist’s top aides provides a glimpse into the maneuvering that is taking place behind the scenes on Capitol Hill.

“FMAP is not included any legislation being considered this week,” the aide wrote to Crist’s budget director. “What I am hearing is that appetite maybe be waning on the Hill.”

Later in the email, he voices concern that the funding will pass at all.

“Right now we don’t see a vehicle for it. Sorry, not good news I know.”

Both the S.C. House and State Senate have already appropriated the money as part of the state’s $21.1 billion budget.  In fact, in the Senate version of the spending plan, there is no contingency in the event the money is not available.

That’s in contrast to Virginia, which already has a plan in place to deal with its $417 million cut.

“Everyone assumed back at the beginning of April that this would be no problem, that this would breeze through Congress,” S.C. Department of Health and Human Services spokesman Jeff Stensland told FITS.  “Now everybody’s scrambling to find out why it’s stalled.”

S.C. Senate Budget (Part IV)