We’re rolling in dough!

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BY ELISABETH PARKER

Where is it? In those ‘carry-forwards’

Every year around this time, state agencies go to the legislature and present their budgets. Legislators inquire about additional requested funds, new programs, and even issues with the agencies.

One thing they don’t often ask: How much do you have left over from what we gave you last year?

Those are called carry-forward funds — and they can run to the tens of millions of dollars.

By law, state agencies can keep up to 10 percent of their unspent allocations each year and carry them forward. For agencies with big budgets, those carry-forwards can add up fast.

The Department of Corrections had over $27 million in carry-forward funds at the end of FY 2015-2016, according to data obtained by The Nerve from the Executive Budget Office. That’s a sharp rise from $7 million the previous year. We asked Corrections about the money — we wanted to know why it’s sitting, unspent — but got no response.

That’s not surprising, although we wish it were. The Nerve has reported on carry-forward funds before (“South Carolina’s billion-dollar-plus hidden budget,” “State agencies sitting on millions of taxpayer dollars“) and has been unable to derive explanations from the agencies.

The next four agencies with the highest amounts of carry-forward funds at the end of FY 2015-2016, not including colleges and universities, are:

Department of Juvenile Justice: $8.9 million

Department of Health & Environmental Control: $4.9 million

Department of Public Safety: $4.7 million

Department of Administration: $4.6 million

The public is largely unaware of these funds, since they’re not clearly outlined in the budget or any budget request forms. It’s that, in part, which allows the agencies to squirrel away millions even as they ask the legislature for more money.

This week, Corrections asked House budget writers for a $1,500 pay increase for all corrections officers.

No one thinks these agencies should be encouraged to spend all their money every year — but it does seem as though requiring them at least to disclose how much is left unspent, to the legislature and the public, could benefit everyone.

Until that day comes, carry-forwards will remain just one more part of South Carolina government that’s cloudy where it ought to be transparent.

  • Looking Behind the Curtain

    You know, it’s funny how year after year you run the same story…and year after year agencies explain, i.e. DHEC, how that carry forward money is to pay for services rendered at the end of the previous year where they have to pay for those services when the bill comes in this year. But year after year, you ignore the facts and say the agencies are flush with money. Fake news.

    • Laird

      I’m not sure that “fake news” is entirely fair. We do know that DOT (for example) has millions squirrelled away in various accounts while they cry poverty. But if, as you say, all those carried-over funds are purely (or even mostly) to cover accrued but unpaid expenses, surely the solution would be for the agency to disclose both the carry-over amount and the accruals. Then it would be clear how much is legitimate and how much is simply slush.

    • Dark_Space

      Really? I’d definitely like to be enlightened with more facts tbh. Just the 4 departments listed in the story have unpaid bills equal to nearly 1% of the total revenue the state brought in last year, and there are a total of 114 departments listed in the budget plan (http://www.admin.sc.gov/budget/agency-budget-plans/current-budget-plans). If all the departments have similar unpaid bills, than that would equal 17.6% of the total annual revenues of the state! Seems like its more than just 30 day old payables or whatever – either way, I think a deeper dive is warranted.

  • Philip Branton

    Hmm…. The model in the picture attached to this article needs a good elbow treatment. What photog would allow such display. American women have better elbows than this. If the Nerve wants better accountability with agency funds then they also need to send a note to their photog.

    What…. Nerve. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/f362fe5d83d7e74a6359cb1db3589225c67f5bd36e35fed1050e34a48cb8f587.jpg

  • snickering

    Please check the Legislative Audit Council’s review of this (slush funds). It’s many years old but very well written and damning. Done when George Schroeder was head of LAC. Funds re also creatively being hidden in buy and return goods.

  • William Morgan

    The “carry over” is found in Leathermans S.255

    In short, it reads ” how dare you taxpayers, new coming job creators, et al random and sundry “civilians” sass us Freemason organized criminals back! Our secret society of deception will bury your patriotic Christian do gooders and all other Liberty based idealists in our trademarked “Notices of Intent” (aka- RICO games) because we know once we defraud you of all your money, you are our next SCDOT State of Southern Corruption (SC) roadkill. ”

    To S.255, this shaken down Yankee aero job creator responds… “ATT : FREEMASON POLITICO SWINDLING CRIMINAL – YOUR GOOD OLE BOY MAFIA DAYS ARE NUMBERED. ”

    Ps: FPSC – please don’t bring your crooked former deputies, delinquent cubscout trainees, or complicit malicious property damage deputy escorts back to my home to shotgun blast it up and urinate on my rugs and walls again. I’m running out of video storage bubba…