COLUMBIA, S.C. — As the South Carolina General Assembly returns Tuesday to Columbia to begin its next session, it will be deciding what to do with a $2 billion surplus.
Frank Rainwater, executive director of the South Carolina Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Office; Lisa Jolliff, director of the Fiscal Analysis Division; and Allyn Powell, manager of economic research, presented information Thursday at the South Carolina Press Association’s 2020 Legislative Workshop for the media that the state would have a $1.019 billion surplus in non-recurring revenue and an $863 million surplus in general fund revenue for the 2020-21 budget.
The non-recurring surplus is different from a $162 million surplus in the capital reserve fund, a $350 million surplus in the contingency reserve fund, and a $507 million surplus in the general fund from the current budget.
According to Rainwater, the surplus in the general fund is 9.9%, higher than projections.
Originally, the office projected general fund revenues to grow by $336 million for the current budget. However, actual revenue growth has more than doubled to $696.1 million for the current budget.
That number is expected to rise further to create an $863 million surplus for the 2020-21 budget the General Assembly will create in the coming session.
Some of that surplus will be taken by increases in different state programs.
Projections also show that the local government fund will be funded at $11.7 million, growth in the lottery funded scholarships is projected to be around $9 million, an increase in employee health insurance at $24.6 million, an increase in retirement contributions at 32.4 million, a state-employee — not including teachers — base pay increase of 2% at $42 million, an increase in base student cost funding at $21.7 million, MediCAID growth at $127.2 million, and continued development of the Department of Social Services Child at $3.9 million.
Statewide pre-K for 4-year-olds, a priority for Gov. Henry McMaster, is projected to cost around $50 million, according to Sen. Vincent Sheheen.
A 1% across-the-board pay raise for teacher salaries would cost $34.4 million.
The revenue and fiscal affairs office also detailed new revenue of $69 million in Education Improvement Act funds. $31 million of that is a surplus in funds from the current 2019-20 budget.
The office also projects total lottery revenue to be $470 million in 2020.
Information also provided indicates that state agencies have originally requested $2.546 billion in funds for the next budget process.
Of that, $1.604 billion is requested from non-recurring revenue funds. That is broken down by K-12 special education at $331 million, higher education at $$752 million, judicial and law enforcement at $261 million, health and social services at $143 million, other government at $38 million, economic development and natural resources at $55 million, and transportation and regulation at $22.5 million.
The other $942 million is requested from recurring revenue. The requests are broken down as follows: K-12 ($331 million), health and social services ($275 million), judicial and law enforcement ($122 million), higher education ($110 million), other government ($48 million), economic development ($35 million), and transportation and regulation ($21 million).
Rainwater emphasized that these were the original requests from October and that once the state agencies saw the projected numbers the requests had changed.