COLUMBIA - An adjustment Thursday in South Carolina's revenue projections means legislators have an additional $108 million to designate in their upcoming budget proposal.
The Board of Economic Advisors voted to recognize $28 million coming into state coffers from a lawsuit settlement, as well as $80 million in lottery profits above earlier estimates.
South Carolina was part of an eight-state settlement last year with British drug maker GlaxoSmithKline. Attorney General Alan Wilson sued in 2011, alleging improper marketing of the diabetes drug, Avandia.
Lawmakers expected higher lottery profit projections. The adjustment includes $50 million more expected in the current fiscal year and $30 million next year. That's in addition to the $252 million in profits, $1.5 million in interest and $8 million in unclaimed prizes the economic board had certified for the fiscal year beginning July 1, based on the lottery agency's recommendations.
Gov. Nikki Haley's office called that agency's forecast unreasonably low.
"It is impossible to credibly argue" that the agency's numbers result from an "determined effort to accurately forecast likely receipts," reads Haley's 2014-15 budget proposal, released last month, which suggests how to spend any impending increase.
Her suggestions included putting $8 million toward new school buses, bringing her total proposal for buses to $20 million. Superintendent Mick Zais has requested $34 million next year for new buses. That would buy roughly 415 buses, fulfilling a 2007 law - ignored during the economic downturn - which calls for replacing one-fifteenth of the fleet yearly.
Haley's other recommendations for any excess in lottery profits included $12.8 million for technology improvements at South Carolina's public colleges and $5 million for "dual-enrollment" classes - courses offered by local colleges that allow high school students to earn college credit. Beyond her specific designations, she suggested putting the rest of any excess in a fund to pay for construction of K-12 schools.