Monday, April 23, 2007

mark on spending: almost as good as the pigs


Columbia, S.C. – April 23, 2007 – Governor Mark Sanford today unveiled a new spending clock, aimed at displaying just how fast the state budget is spending new tax dollars coming into Columbia this year.

This week, the Senate will begin debate on its budget, which as of right now contemplates spending nearly all of the $1.3 billion in new money coming into Columbia this year, while only providing $54 million in tax relief to hard-working South Carolinians. By contrast, the governor’s spending plan called for $205 million in income tax relief, while the House’s spending plan called for more than $80 million in tax relief.

That rate of spending growth translates into roughly $33 per second – more than $2.8 million spent per day. The governor said the spending clock is an important illustration of just how fast that money is being spent, particularly in light of how little tax relief the Senate Finance Committee’s budget would provide.

“This clock provides a fairly startling reminder of just how fast an average South Carolinian’s hard-earned dollars are being spent in Columbia,” Gov. Sanford said. “Our state’s budget is poised for yet another year of double-digit growth after growing by more than 25 percent over the past two years. That’s a rate of growth that far exceeds the growth in the average South Carolinian’s paycheck, that far exceeds the growth in the national economy, and that’s unsustainable by any measure. As the Senate begins its budget debate this week, I’d ask that conservative Senators make their voices heard about the need for more in the way of tax relief and less in the way of government spending, so that we can return more of these dollars to hard-working people of this state.”

Currently, the Senate budget would return only about three percent of new dollars to South Carolinians in the form of tax relief. The budget also only puts $205 million toward state’s $9 billion unfunded retiree healthcare liability, compared to the $439 million recommended by Gov. Sanford toward that debt. In addition, the Senate Finance Committee’s budget contains $242 million in annualizations – the use of one-time money for ongoing expenses – compared to $73 million in the governor’s budget plan.

The spending clock will continue to be displayed outside the Governor’s Office throughout the budget process.