Amid declining revenues, South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford this week held a first-of-its-kind statewide budget summit to get ideas directly from agency heads about impending budget cuts.
Sanford also has threatened to call lawmakers into special session before the Nov. 4 election.
Last week the governor ordered state agencies to prepare a list of cuts representing 10% of their budgets in preparation for this week’s summit.
The state’s Board of Economic Advisers was to have met yesterday to review projections about how much must be trimmed from the $7 billion budget. The BEA in July cut revenue estimates by 2% and indications were that they could cut estimates by another 4% or more after this week’s meeting.
Sanford on Sept. 30 said it was essential for the General Assembly to set a deadline before the November election to deal with budget cuts. He estimated that about $250 million in cuts might be necessary.
While revenues aren’t meeting projections, Sanford said that’s not the only reason the budget must be cut.
“The spending cuts are needed largely because of substantial overspending in the years leading up to the most recent budget,” he said in a press release. “All told, spending grew by more than 40%, a rate of growth far faster than that of the underlying economy.”
Sanford said he wants legislative leaders to help identify targeted cuts, but he said those lawmakers have so far been unwilling to commit to a time line for making them.
“Some tough choices are going to have to be made over the next few weeks, and we stand ready to work with legislative leaders as they formulate a plan for targeted cuts,” Sanford said. “We’ve said before that any family out there in tough times would cut from their movie budget before they cut from their grocery budget, and we think government ought to operate on that same principle.”