Politics & Government

SC colleges want $1.1 billion more in state money

USC School of Medicine in Columbia. USC has asked state lawmakers for $50 million to jump-start its $200 million relocation to the Bull Street property
USC School of Medicine in Columbia. USC has asked state lawmakers for $50 million to jump-start its $200 million relocation to the Bull Street property

South Carolina’s colleges and universities want every penny of the extra money that state lawmakers will have to spend in next year’s budget. And then some.

Legislators expect to have an added $446 million to spend statewide.

But the state’s 17 research schools, four-year universities and their branch campuses alone have asked for more than $750.1 million for added academic funding and one-time money for buildings, equipment and technology.

Throw in the $355.5 million in added money requested by the state’s 16 technical colleges, and added budget requests from higher education swell to more than $1.1 billion.

Only a fraction of that added spending is likely to be approved when the Legislature meets next year, starting in January.

State spending on higher education has lagged since the Great Recession, and S.C. colleges are not the only state agencies looking for a slice of the larger budget pie.

K-12 schools in poor, rural areas, the state’s crumbling roads and bridges, and its underfunded pension system all will be looking for more money. S.C. lawmakers also are on the hook for an estimated $64 million in damages the state must pay for because of Hurricane Matthew.

Still, higher education is asking.

The University of South Carolina system wants nearly $178 million in added money, almost half of that for its Columbia campus alone.

USC again has asked the state for $50 million to jump-start the construction of a new, $200 million medical school complex on the Bull Street property in downtown Columbia.

Last year, state lawmakers denied USC’s $50 million request to help pay the cost of moving its medical school from its aging home on Garners Ferry Road.

USC also has asked for $21.5 million to renovate its soon-to-be-former law school building on Main Street. The $45 million project would install science labs in the 194,000-square-foot building, built in 1972. Legislators allocated $3.5 million toward that project last year.

Clemson University requested nearly $103 million. That includes $39.5 million to renovate three academic buildings, $25 million to build a new, 180,000-square-foot building to house the College of Business and Behavioral Sciences, and $25 million to build a state-of-the-art complex for its science and engineering departments.

The College of Charleston’s $130.5 million request includes $53.5 million to renovate its Simons Center for the Arts, $23 million to renovate the college’s gym and $35 million for a new, 48,000-square-foot academic building.

Winthrop University asked the state for $92.5 million, including $55 million for a “multimedia and research technology hub” and $29 million to renovate its science buildings.

Cash-strapped S.C. State University asked for $26.6 million for wide-sweeping improvements, everything from upgrading the school’s information technology systems to a $8.5 million dorm renovation to $2 million to replace building roofs.

Staff writer Cassie Cope contributed. Avery G. Wilks: 803-771-8362, @averygwilks

More money for SC colleges?

How much more money S.C. colleges and universities say they want from the Legislature next year

College of Charleston: $130,515,820

The Citadel: $6,332,000

Clemson University: $102,725,840

Coastal Carolina University: $60,697,200

Francis Marion University: $28,360,000

Lander University: $15,887,863

S.C. State University: $26,613,342

Medical University of South Carolina: $108,500,000

University of South Carolina – all campuses: $177,996,172

Winthrop University: $92,510,000

S.C. technical colleges: $355,485,013

Total: $1,105,623,250

SOURCE: S.C. Department of Administration