WASHINGTON — Board: State will have $200 million more to spend next year
State budget writers will have more than $7 billion to spend in next year’s budget, according to an initial estimate approved Wednesday by the state Board of Economic Advisors.
The estimate is about $200 million more than this year’s initial estimate of $6.8 million. Board members will reconsider the estimate next month. Republican Gov. Nikki Haley will use the estimate to build her budget recommendations for the 2014-15 fiscal year, which starts July 1. Legislators then will devise their own budget plans.
The estimate predicts how much money the state will collect in its next fiscal year in sales and income taxes, which make up about a third of the state’s annual budget. The estimate does not cover the other two-thirds of the state’s annual spending, made up of federal money or “other funds” – things like fees and grants.
Board members made no changes to the estimate for the state’s current budget year.
Graham to block Fed, Homeland picks over Benghazi
U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham said Wednesday he would block President Barack Obama’s nominees for Federal Reserve chairman and Homeland Security chief in a dispute over last year’s attack in Benghazi, Libya.
The S.C. Republican said using his Senate prerogative to stall all future nominees is his only leverage as Republicans try to force the administration to let survivors of the assault on the U.S. diplomatic mission talk to members of Congress.
A diplomatic security agent who was an eyewitness to the Sept. 11, 2012, raid that killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans already have been deposed by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
Benghazi is the rallying cry for conservatives who argue the administration tried to mislead the American people in the heat of a presidential campaign by playing down a terrorist attack on Obama’s watch. In the months since, congressional Republicans have accused the administration of stonewalling their investigations.
In a letter to Graham, the State Department said it was concerned about congressional interviews with the survivors of the attack because of Justice Department advice that they could be witnesses in a criminal trial and any interviews outside the criminal justice process could jeopardize a case. The department also said it was concerned that, because the survivors are law-enforcement professionals who work at high-threat posts, disclosing their identities “could put their lives ... at increased risk.”
The nominees in limbo are Janet Yellen, Obama’s choice to replace S.C. native Ben Bernanke as chairman of the Federal Reserve, and Jeh Johnson, tapped to fill the vacancy at Homeland Security after Janet Napolitano resigned. The Senate also must decide the fate of judicial nominees as well as military officers.
Graham’s news conference came as a new Winthrop Poll showed Graham’s support plunging among S.C. GOP voters. The poll showed Graham with the backing of 45 percent of Republican voters in October, down from 72 percent in February. However, Benghazi is an issue that energizes core Republicans.
Graham, who has $7 million in his campaign war chest as he seeks a third term next year, faces a GOP primary challenge from three underfunded candidates: state Sen. Lee Bright of Spartanburg; Easley businessman Richard Cash; and Nancy Mace of Charleston, the first female graduate of the Citadel. They have criticized the incumbent for working with Democrats on immigration and other issues.
The Associated Press