I’ve been fortunate during my time in office serving on every standing committee in the House except Judiciary. Of course, some of the committees I served on over the years came after House Leadership demoted me for my push (along with then Representative Nikki Haley) for more transparency in state government . I took that as a badge of honor and appreciate the support I received during that time from all of you back home!

A few years ago I was appointed to the House Ways and Means Committee where I currently serve along with other senior members in the House. This committee is viewed by most in politics as the most influential in state government and it’s also one of the most time-consuming with our budget meetings starting actually the first day we return on Tuesday!

Over the years, I have been recognized as one of the top fiscal conservatives in the House and always consider the budget one of our largest responsibilities. This year, we have almost TWO BILLION of additional funds to appropriate.

I write tonight to ask you this – where would you want those funds to go?

So you know, $800 million of that figure is what is called RECURRING. That means we can expect those funds in the future…in other words, putting some of that money to teacher salary increases makes sense. The other $1 Billion of that figure is what is called NONRECURRING. That means those funds should not be expected again next year….in other words, putting some of that money to purchases new school buses (keeping with the education theme I’m using) makes sense.

While most people assume we “spend” all those dollars (personally, I consider the budget an “investment”…we are INVESTING in agencies, etc) the General Assembly actually puts funds into RESERVES (aka savings account). Doing that actually does count as “spending”…so get ready, we are going to SPEND the entire $1.8 Billion…..but where will it go?

One area I would like to put much of the NONRECURRING dollars is into more RESERVES for the state. Since the recession of 2008-2009, we have stored away a little more than HALF A BILLION DOLLARS ($500 million) to prepare for a “rainy day”. Why? Because during the recession, we had to make cuts to almost every agency. Those were not good times for the state and I’d prefer to not have to do that again.

I would like to see us put $500 million into reserves THIS YEAR. That would double our “savings account” and would allow us to do like everyone should at home and have money for when the bad times come. Because, they WILL come. As information, the state portion of our budget is roughly $9B each year (there are 2 other pockets of money in the budget – federal and, simply put, fees that make up $18B). So…..even though $1B sounds like a lot of money, it’s roughly 10% of the state budget. Not an exorbitant amount to keep on hand for a rainy day.

If we accomplish what I mention above, there is still $500M in nonrecurring to appropriate and the $800M in recurring funds.

Of course, with this much additional revenue, we should always look at our tax system to help the taxpayers and our business climate. Are we overtaxing or is this more of a result of a booming economy nationally and locally?

Would love your thoughts and advice below or by emailing NathanBallentine@schouse.gov