A fiscally conservative think tank is hoping to keep free-spending South Carolina “Republicans” in check by promoting what it refers to as a “sustainable” budget.
Leaders at the S.C. Policy Council (SCPC) want to impose a “maximum limit” on recurring general fund appropriations “based on the rate of state population growth plus inflation.” According to them, such a limit would “help rein in unsustainable spending and provide more opportunities for tax relief.”
SCPC research director Bryce Fiedler and economist Vance Ginn highlighted the group’s sustainable budget initiative this week – revealing that lawmakers exceeded the recommended spending limit by a whopping $630 million in the previous fiscal year. And that’s just when it comes to general fund revenues – one of three multi-billion dollar pots of money state lawmakers appropriate each year.
Fiedler and Ginn are calling on lawmakers to freeze general fund spending at its current level, which would “help correct recent overspending in the state’s budget and help put the state on a more sustainable budget path.”
All told, the Palmetto State’s GOP “supermajority” blew a record $38.8 billion in the current fiscal year budget – which ends on June 30, 2024. They are currently in the process of writing the budget for fiscal year 2024-2025, which according to our sources could eclipse $40 billion.
All of this new spending is being plowed into the same maze of antiquated, duplicative, corrupt and results-challenged state agencies – as lawmakers have steadfastly resisted calls to modernize their badly broken bureaucratic state.
Last year’s spending plan marked a 12.6 percent year-over-year increase – far outpacing population and inflation growth. Even after we adjust for soaring inflation, so-called “conservative” supermajorities in Columbia, S.C. spent $3.51 billion more than they did the previous year – a 9.9 percent spike over the previous year’s record-setting spending plan.
How bad will it be this go-round?
Fiedler and Ginn credited lawmakers – and governor Henry McMaster – for passing a modest income tax cut in 2022, but lamented that their approach “relies on continued revenue growth to deliver incremental tax relief.” They also pointed out something this media outlet has been screaming for years – that our neighboring states are absolutely crushing us on the tax front.
“North Carolina recently passed legislation that could eventually bring their income tax rate to 2.49 percent, which would be the lowest in the country, excluding the seven states without personal income taxes,” they wrote. “On that list are Florida and Tennessee, two major competitors for jobs and investment in the Southeast.”
Yeah … no wonder our state has to bribe woke companies to locate here.
“Following the (sustainable budget) will put South Carolina in a better position to reduce taxes, avoid the cost of excessive government growth, and give citizens more opportunities to flourish,” Fiedler and Ginn concluded. “Had this been done since 2013, the state could have substantially lowered personal income taxes, if not eliminated them. Fortunately, the upcoming budget provides state leaders with another crucial opportunity to rein in spending and deliver much-needed relief. South Carolina taxpayers are counting on it.”
Unfortunately, GOP lawmakers seem perpetually disinclined to seize these opportunities. As the SCPC report noted in one of its footnotes, “when looking at all funds … appropriations surpassed the sustainable budget threshold between FY17 to FY24.”
In other words, that’s eight consecutive years in which the GOP has grown government faster than your ability to pay for it … while at the same time ignoring calls for broad-based income tax relief.
As this media outlet has often noted, our legislatively controlled state has been failing citizens and taxpayers for decades. From 1878-1994, generations of corrupt, self-serving white Democrats were exclusively to blame for the myriad problems plaguing the Palmetto State. Since 2001, however, legislative power has been held exclusively by white “Republicans” – many of whom simply flipped parties (albeit not governing philosophies) as a means of maintaining their power. Select black leaders have been invited to participate in the ongoing graft and corruption – creating a self-serving, self-perpetuating uni-party oligarchy.
Mainstream media has accommodated this uni-party. We have not – and will not.
Earlier this week, we tagged a vote on a controversial rules change – one intended to silence the fiscally responsible wing of the GOP – as our first “litmus test” vote of 2024. After we did so, GOP leaders temporarily retreated on that issue. Well, the adoption of a sustainable budget amendment is our second “litmus test” vote of the new year – and we intend on letting our audience know exactly how each and every member of the S.C. General Assembly votes on it.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina and before that he was a bass guitarist and dive bar bouncer. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven (soon to be eight) children.
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