SC lawmakers prepare to write budget delayed by COVID-19

(FILE) State House

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — After months of delays because of the COVID-19 pandemic, South Carolina lawmakers are getting ready to write this year’s budget.

The first step comes Monday when the state Board of Economic Advisors plans to issue its estimate on how much the state will collect in taxes and fees for the year that started July 1.

The Senate Finance Committee has a virtual meeting scheduled Tuesday to hear from the leaders of the state’s education, road and prison agencies.

Senators get first crack at this new budget because the House passed a spending plan for the 2020-2021 budget year in March just days before the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown.

Comptroller General Richard Eckstrom just closed the books on the 2019-2020 budget year Thursday and said South Carolina ended with a $775 million surplus.

Gov. Henry McMaster has suggested the state save that money and use the spending plan from last year in case the economy does not rebound.

Budget leaders in the House and Senate haven’t committed to that idea yet, but said they plan to be cautious about any new spending.

Both the House and Senate plan a special session starting Sept. 15 to finish the budget. They agreed in May to allow state agencies to keep spending at the same rate as the previous budget year until they finish their work.

Categories: Politics, State