Current as of October 27, 2011
There are a couple of updates to share with you today -- one on the state’s general budget and economic situation, and the other on an additional campus food service outlet that has been delayed, but is now moving forward.
To take the latter first: Many of you responded positively to the news shared at the beginning of the year that in response to popular requests, ARAMARK and Subway would be returning a Subway sandwich option to Dinkins Hall later in the semester. While that plan encountered some challenges due to changes in state engineer’s requirements since the original food service court was built in Dinkins many years ago, those now appear to have been overcome by ARAMARK and Subway’s willingness to invest in making some upgrades to the food prep facilities in Dinkins. Those changes will start next week, and we expect to have a Subway back on campus for use starting in Spring semester. Our appreciation to ARAMARK and Subway for helping make this possible.
In a sense, this willingness of the private sector to invest in a new outlet at Winthrop is a reflection of the broader economic situation reported in Columbia yesterday afternoon, when the state Board of Economic Advisers met to review revenue receipts.
Tax revenue receipts are up considerably over the conservative estimate at the beginning of the year, reflecting what various BEA members said was the result of economic recovery beginning to take hold across the state.
The board had projected the state would collect 1 percent fewer tax dollars this year than it did last year, but the board reviewed data indicating collections are running nearly $71 million, or almost 6 percent ahead of those projections.
“The State” newspaper, however, noted in their report that the higher revenue does not necessarily mean a return of appropriated dollars to state agencies, including colleges and universities, that have seen state funding support fall by 50 percent over the past few years.
While the new receipts, “The State” report noted, “could clear the way for lawmakers to spend more money on state services and operations when they meet in January…it also could set off a political tug-of-war between legislators and Gov. Nikki Haley, who has said that higher-than-expected revenues should be used to pay down state debt or returned to taxpayers. It also is recognized that the state will have considerably higher Medicaid and employee health insurance costs in the next fiscal year, which quickly absorb much of the returning tax receipts. In addition, the state still must repay federal loans used to pay unemployment benefits to S.C. workers during the recession.
We will continue to monitor this situation closely, while also asking everyone to continue to work as efficiently and effectively as possible, so we conserve the financial resources we have, given the unpredictability of the state allocations.
Meanwhile, many thanks for all you continue to do for Winthrop University.