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SC budget writers prepare for plan with many unknowns

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — After a nearly two-month long delay because of COVID-19, South Carolina lawmakers are preparing to write a budget without a lot of certainty on how much they can spend.
The state Board of Economic Advisors meets Monday to close the books on the budget year that ended June 30.
The economists on the board will then discuss what factors go into predicting how much revenue South Carolina will collect in taxes and fees for the 2020-2021 budget year that started July 1.
The board will issue an official prediction on Aug. 31. They have suggested the $9.4 billion in the budget for last year won’t change much. But they have also warned there may be a lot more margin for error in this year’s estimates.
The House typically writes the new budget, but they passed their spending plan in March just before the coronavirus pandemic shutdown. House leaders said the economic downturn means they can’t use that plan.
So the Senate will rewrite the budget, starting with virtual meetings of the Senate Finance Committee the first week in September.
Both the House and Senate plan to return Sept. 15 for a two-week special session to finish the spending plan.
The General Assembly usually passes the budget before July 1. But with the economic uncertainty around the pandemic, they approved a temporary measure to extend the spending levels of the old budget into the 2020-2021 budget year.

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