Politics & Government

State spending slashed 7 percent

South Carolina State House
South Carolina State House AP

Updated 12:07 p.m.

The state’s budget board has ordered a 7 percent cut in state spending for the budget year, or more than $400 million.

Many state agencies are likely to have to cut more employees and curtail services in order live within smaller budgets.

Sagging tax collections and the expectation of climbing unemployment have paired to create a tougher than expected budget year for South Carolina.

The state Budget and Control Board had the option of ordering immediate cuts, letting lawmakers order the cuts when they convene in January or deferring to Gov. Mark Sanford, who could have ordered lawmakers to convene immediately to deal with the budget crisis.

The five-member board - made up of the governor, state treasurer, state comptroller the budget writing chairmen in the House and Senate - chose immediate, across-the-board cuts.

That means all state agencies will have to cut spending by 7 percent. This at a time when state agencies have already cut hundreds of jobs, have left hundreds more unfilled, cut back on travel and buying new equipment.

The action comes after state economists Wednesday said unemployment could reach 14 percent next year under a souring economy, meaning slower sales and income tax collections.

Since July, the state has cut the budget estimate three times after a string of lowered revenue projections.

- John O’Connor