Current as of May 25, 2012
The S.C. Senate has completed its work on its budget recommendations for the fiscal year beginning July 1. While there remain some weeks yet to go before the overall budget process is finalized, a clearer picture of state funding for the next academic year is taking shape.
Our operating funding will remain level with the current year, as that is set out in both the House and Senate plan. Some funds will be provided toward a salary increase, though the two chambers differ on what that increase will be. The Senate plan calls for a 3 percent increase for state employees, an increase from the House-recommended 2 percent.
As I have shared with everyone previously, such an increase is well-deserved, yet it does create an unfunded mandate for Winthrop, since not all our employee raises are state-funded. That means Winthrop has to use other resources to provide the increase as directed; each percentage point costs Winthrop about $375,000 that is not provided by the state. The same holds true for health insurance increases if the legislature determines those will be agency paid, rather than employee-paid, as the Senate Finance committee proposes this year. We are presently calculating what those additional costs to Winthrop would be.
Through the work of York County Senators Wes Hayes and Harvey Peeler, the Senate is recommending a $600,000 increase in one-time funding for campus needs, and also is supporting a House-adopted technology allocation of $500,000 put forth by Rep. Gary Simrill. There also is a $1.3 million one-time allocation for deferred maintenance that is supported in both chambers.
Because the plan differs from the House, the measure approved by the Senate will return to the House for their consideration of the additional spending. If House members do not agree, a conference committee will be appointed toward the end of the month.
Once the legislative branch has reached agreement on a plan both chambers support, Governor Haley will review the budget for possible vetoes. Given her earlier calls for a cap on spending, she likely will issue some vetoes that will have to return to the General Assembly to be either sustained or overridden. The veto session tentatively is targeted to begin June 19.
In recent years, this process has taken well into June, making it imprudent for us to finalize recommendations to the Board of Trustees for a Winthrop spending plan and tuition recommendation for the coming year until after their regular June board meeting. It appears that will be the case again this year, but we will know more as the process continues. Please be assured we will provide updates as the situation warrants.