Speak up before budget cuts kill critical programs

Last week the S.C. House of Representatives adopted amendments to the state budget bill that eviscerated health and human services for low-income South Carolinians in order to plug a $20 million hole in the judiciary’s budget.

Instead of considering other logical revenue sources, they balanced the budget at the hard expense of the working poor and children. They gutted programs to come up with $24.3 million for the judiciary and $22.5 million for the Department of Public Safety.

This amendment includes:

  • Capping enrollment in the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), leaving 70,000 to 100,000 eligible children without health insurance;
  • Cutting funds to the Department of Social Services that assist low-income households with children;
  • Limiting Medicaid patients to 3 drug prescriptions per month, down from at least 4 and up to 10 prescriptions, forcing the seriously ill to make potentially life-threatening medical decisions where they must treat one ailment at the expense of others;
  • Cutting prevention programs for kidney disease, HIV, breast, cervical, and colorectal cancer, and funding for AIDS treatment programs; and
  • Cutting grants to rural hospitals and funding to trauma centers.

Please contact your Senator today and ask him to vote to non-concur with the House amendments.  (You can locate your Senator by going here.)

While cutting these life-saving programs, the House found $240,000 to fund beach re-nourishment and $3 million, the exact amount cut from CHIP, to add to the House of Representatives operations budget.

One obvious and just way to raise revenue would be to increase the sales tax on luxury vehicles. At present, a person purchasing a yacht, a jet, or a luxury car in South Carolina pays the same $300 sales tax as the person buying the cheapest car on the lot so that he or she can get to work and support a family. Such a tax could bring South Carolina more than $100 million per year to fund basic services.

It is past time for our legislators to consider other revenue options, rather than continuing to cut essential programs for our state’s most vulnerable population.  There is no reason we should have to choose between public safety, a strong judiciary and caring for our neighbors in times of need.

This report was compiled by SC Appleseed.

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