The following update is the official weekly report of the Republican House Caucus –
Much has been said in the national news over the last few weeks about budget deficits in states across the country. Here in South Carolina, the direction from our voters is clear: Prioritize spending. Protect “core” government services. Cut the size of government.
A national poll taken this week illustrates what my constituents have been telling me. The USA Today/Gallup poll showed large majorities of Republican and independent voters do not want tax increases and conservatives support cuts to state government programs.
Debating and prioritizing the wisest use of your tax dollars is the single biggest responsibility you place on us as legislators. As a conservative, I start any budget with the premise that we are not spending the government’s money, we are spending your money.
The first thing everyone must remember is that the General Assembly is not Congress. We must approve balanced budgets and we have no way to print money to cover shortfalls. We may spend only what comes in from tax revenues.
So when our state is facing another major cut in revenue, we must make cuts in spending.
Raising taxes to cover higher budget requests is the easy way out, and it was the path chosen by North Carolina and Georgia (along with Democrat bastions such as Illinois, which raised its income tax by 67 percent).
Cutting programs is not always popular. We know that. But in lean times, our conservative philosophy dictates that government should live like a family – you have to tighten your belts and spend less. However, that is not the philosophy shared by all of the members of the House.
While the budget cuts might be painful in the short term, they will make South Carolina a better, more stable place to live and work in the long term.
The budget is scheduled to be on the House floor for debate on Monday, March 14th.