The South Carolina Budget and Control Board meets Thursday to deal with what may be as much as a four percent across-the-board cut to state agencies.
One of many agencies bracing for the worst is the Department of Juvenile Justice, which was given permission to deficit spend for the most recent round of cuts. Judge William Byars, DJJ Director says, “We got some monies restored, even though a lot of it was one-time money. But we have been holding that money really tight, anticipating budget cuts. If you spend half your money and then have to cut 10 percent out of the 50 percent you have left, that’s a 20 percent cut.”
Byars says he has been preparing for a six percent cut and that is it “unwise” not to plan for it. His plan is to not spend money, use volunteers when they can and lower the numbers of incarcerated youth.
“It’s very expensive to incarcerate a child. If we can do it in the community, I can do probably 20 kids int he community that I can do for one kid that I have to lock up, because there are so many requirements of what we have to do. As we lower our numbers down, it begins to free up monies to be used in other ways or to be used for cuts. We’d prefer not to use them for cuts,” says Byars.
DJJ was allowed to deficit spend in the past year because a federal court order mandates that the agency does more than simply “warehouse children.”
Byers says that affected how he approached the SC Budget and Control Board: “We went in and said, ‘Here’s how much we can do. We can’t do more than this.’ If we do more than this, the state may lose control of this agency to the federal government. When that happens, we lose all of our flexibility.”
The state Budget and Control Board meets in Columbia at 1:30 Thursday. Get agenda