Current as of March 11, 2009
The S.C. House of Representatives overnight concluded the bulk of the work on state appropriations for the 09-10 fiscal year that begins July 1, and final approval of the measure was given earlier today. Actions impacting Winthrop are detailed below.
Meanwhile, two other major economic indicators are in the news this week as well:
- The state’s unemployment rate for January was released this morning. It is now 10.4 %-- nearing the state's all-time record of 11.4%, which was posted in January 1983, at the end of that decade's recession.
- The state Board of Economic Advisers will meet Thursday, and is expected to update its revenue forecasts for the remainder of this year. That could trigger an additional round of appropriation reductions for the current fiscal year, as well as impact the operating base for next year.
Also in today’s news will be further coverage of Governor Mark Sanford’s state tour explaining his desire to accept federally provided stimulus funds put forth to help states stabilize their operations only for state debt reduction, rather than the purposes outlined by Congress. A link to Governor Sanford’s letter to President Obama appears at the end of this message.
The version of the budget that the House is sending to the Senate affects Winthrop in the following ways:
- Our base appropriation for the fiscal year beginning July 1 would be $18.2 million. (The base with which we began this year was $23.4 million.)
- Winthrop’s share of federal stimulus funds would be $3.7 million.
- A re-allocation of lottery funds historically set aside for the technology needs of 2- and 4-year institutions would cost Winthrop over $334,000 of the $700,000 usually received from there.
- As expected in these circumstances, the state plans to offer no pay increases for employees this year.
- Tuition flexibility is maintained at the state level; federal stimulus fund rules require institutions to use those dollars to ‘mitigate’ tuition increases, and Winthrop certainly will do that.
- The budget measure includes a statement from the General Assembly requesting the federal funds, as required of the legislative branch in any state where a governor does not request the funds.
Please know efforts are already underway to lay the groundwork to restore the lottery technology funds to institutions when the budget is taken up by the Senate, as those funds have been a part of our operating budget this year, under latitude allowed us regarding those funds since budget cuts began.
Should you wish further information on the budget debate:
-- The link below will take you to the Charleston Post and Courier website and an Associated Press report that has been updated with overnight activities that occurred after morning newspaper publication deadlines: http://www.charleston.net/news/2009/mar/11/legislators_give_key_approval_66b_budget
-- This link will take you to a copy of Governor Sanford’s letter to President Obama regarding his preference to use federal stimulus funds for purposes other than those to which they are directed: http://www.postandcourier.com/media/2009/pdf/Sanford3-10-09.pdf
From this point, the state budget moves to the Senate, where a similar process will be undertaken. We already have received strong indications from senators that unlike previous years, an increase in funding cannot be expected, and further cuts could be made to next year’s base. It will then be up to the Senate and House to iron out any differences in their budget versions, before sending the budget to the governor for his possible vetoes. That process likely will extend into late May or early June.
I will keep you informed of any additional key developments as the overall budget process moves forward and economic status reports are made. Meanwhile, many thanks for all you are doing to keep Winthrop on task during these globally challenging times.