(The State) Good news: South Carolina has a budget surplus. Bad news: It’s not enough.
The state Comptroller General’s Office said Wednesday that the state ended the 2012 fiscal year with a $379.5 million surplus. But state lawmakers had planned for about a $397 million surplus.
The difference – $14.7 million (after $2.8 million in sustained budget vetoes) – means some things in this year’s state budget won’t get paid for.
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One casualty is $500,000 in grants for the S.C. Arts Commission. Gov. Nikki Haley vetoed that money, sparking an outcry from arts-supporters all across the state. Lawmakers voted overwhelmingly to override the governor’s veto – only to find out Wednesday the state did not have the money to pay for the grants anyway.
That means the promised 25 percent increase in grants to state arts groups won’t happen, said Ken May, executive director of the Arts Commission.
“It’s so unexpected. Everything we’ve been hearing about revenues is that they have been better than expected,” May said. “It’s a real shocker to hear that, ‘No, in fact, we fell short.’ ”
The state’s budget surplus is smaller for a couple of reasons.
First, people did not buy as much in the final two months of the fiscal year that ended June 30, so sales tax collections were off by about $14 million. Also, because the fiscal year ended on a Saturday, businesses that issue paychecks on a Monday ended up paying state withholding taxes in July, not June. That cost the state’s 2012 fiscal year about $16.5 million in income taxes.
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