How much is this foolishness costing us?

Just a quick reaction to this message received this afternoon:

Members of the Press – we just had a very important Senate Finance Committee meeting regarding the state budget and the federal stimulus money.

In an initial Finance Committee budget meeting today Chairman Hugh Leatherman instructed subcommittee chairmen to work into the night creating a budget without federal stimulus funds. He has instructed the chairmen to cut $370 from the House budget, including $161 Million from K-12 education and $44 Million from higher education.

The Finance Committee will reconvene tomorrow at 9:00 am to review the proposed cuts in Gressette Rm 105.

Please email me with any questions.

– Wesley Donehue
SC Senate Republican Caucus

I wonder how much this insanity of Sanford forcing the Legislature to do TWO budgets is costing us, in staff time and such? Drafting the budget each year is the biggest, hairiest lifting the General Assembly does. And they’re having to do it TWICE, because of the bizarre whims of one man?

11 thoughts on “How much is this foolishness costing us?

  1. Greg Flowers

    To be honest, from the time the stimulus money was announced Sanford has been very upfront about his position. Therefore it seems that any extra work is the fault of the General Assembly anticipating a decision which it appears was not theirs to make in spite of contrary statements from the decision maker. This is the essence of both representative democracy and separation of powers, both systems that work very well the vast majority of the time but sometimes do not. I honestly do not think that anyone who has studied Sanford’s record up until now should be surprised.

  2. Lee Muller

    Right now, the FY 2009-2010 Budget is $20,778,000,000.
    Let’s see how bogus this “crisis” is:

    FY 2009-2010 = $20,778,000,000 budget

    FY 2007-2008 = $20,858,585,100 actual spending

    FY 2006-2007 = $20,266,849,917 actual

    FY 2005-2006 = $19,242,459,434 actual ( $1,000,000,000 over budget)

    I could continue, but you get the picture. There is plenty of money without the federal deficit slush fund.

  3. Bill C.

    Look out… big Brad is going to go postal, or start crying.

    If you knew anything about budgeting you’d know that it’s not as dramatic as you want to believe. State departments have done and redone several budgets over the past year. Every time there’s a hint of a cut, department heads want to know how it’ll affect the budget. So Brad… quit being a drama queen.

  4. Lee Muller

    “Recession is when your neighbor loses his job.

    Depression is when you lose your job.

    And recovery is when Obama loses his job.”

  5. Greg Flowers

    To what extent is the reduction in higher education spending offset by the state sponsored scholarships now so widely available?

  6. Doug Ross

    When are they going to start cutting funding for the Hundley or PASS testing or legislator salaries and expense accounts or slush funds for Okra Strut?

    You’ve been hoodwinked, Brad. You chose the path of least resistance in trying to understand the nature of the economic problems in this state.

  7. John

    Greg, I think those scholarships are actually very corrosive to higher ed. I teach, and I have seen and felt the pressure they put on our students to perform beyond some of their abilities and our faculty to engage in grade inflation. The scholarship plans require a student to keep a B average. That’s great, except that of course a B is “above average” and a lot of people just aren’t going to keep the scholarship. I think USC is well over 50% for incoming students supported by lottery fellowships. This can hurt upper level retention because people go to college planning on the scholarship for four years but only get 1-2 yrs. Then instead of college graduates you get depressed unemployed people who are probably in debt and may have few marketable skills.

    I would like to see what kind of offer the schools would come up with regarding tuition if the state would funnel that money directly into higher ed budgets and bypass the middlemen (students). The College of Wooster is a private institution that recently conducted a great experiment: when they realized half of their students were on aid, and the other half were subsidizing them with tuition, they decided to cut all financial aid and reduce tuition nearly 50% (I don’t remember the precise numbers). Their enrollment did not drop through this process. I wonder if the lottery proceeds could be dealt with the same way.

    Of course I would like even more to see higher ed a respected part of the state budgeting process instead of the product of a tax on the mathematically challenged, but that may be a topic for another day.

    And yes, for those who would be swift to remind me, I know some exceptional people can make it through school subsisting on grubs and dirt while living in cardboard boxes, but the typical student has real trouble when financial difficulties intrude on their studies, especially when they have to hold down a full time job.

  8. Lee Muller

    Do you think college spending and costs can continue to increase at three times the rate of family incomes, or do you think we need better management of our colleges who can freeze spending and reduce the costs of college back in line with the ability of students to pay?

  9. John

    Lee, I’m afraid I don’t know the rate of increase of spending for higher ed in this state (are you counting public and private schools?) at the statewide or individual level. If it is higher than the rate of family income growth, the next question is whether or not that is in response to a state defined mission. If they are being told to grow, given that we are in a recession and family incomes are shrinking it seems likely that the rate of increase is higher. When campuses are meeting their mission, that’s fine; if they aren’t then you are certainly right and their management should be held accountable.

    With respect to your question about costs, I don’t know how much they can control costs. Are you targeting construction, salaries, energy, what exactly? Some of their costs are based on national scales. For example, the labs can’t buy microscopes produced here in SC. They have to pay the going rate from a national supplier. Some are local, like most blue collar campus jobs. Of course they can control costs by refusing to do a particular activity – unless that conflicts with their mission.

    Should they freeze spending? I think that gets back to their ability to “control” costs. Obviously if costs beyond their influence are rising (e.g. microscopes) they need to make their case to the state that their mission requires the increase. If they can’t then they need to redefine their mission.

    How does this relate to the student’s ability to pay? I don’t know. Since demand for open freshman spots hasn’t slacked off, you could say the market is telling the schools they still have room for tuition increases. However I think most public and private higher ed acknowledges that their purpose isn’t to soak students and families for maximum cash.

    Brad, I apologize for going off topic.

  10. Lee Muller

    As a professional management consultant, any time I see a business with unit costs growing at 2 or 3 times rate of their customers’ ability to purchase the products and services, I KNOW they are mismanaged.

    In the private sector, they would long ago have been put out of business by competition offering more value to the customers.

    Public education costs and public college and university costs have been out out control in the most literal sense that little effort was made to control them by the administrators whose primary goals were building their own empires and resumes. The obvious mismanagement has been facilitated by hiding the true cost increases with bonded indebtedness, student loans and government grants to students, many of whom flunk out very soon and leave lots of cash behind.

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