Governor Haley Signs into Law Stavrinakis Bill to Require Balanced Budget for Charleston County Schools
June 7, 2016
Charleston, SC - On Monday, Governor Nikki Haley signed the Charleston County Schools Balanced Budget Act, a bill filed by Charleston Rep. Leon Stavrinakis, that would require the Charleston County School Board to obtain independent certification of tax revenues expected to be available for each coming year's budget. The law would require the amount of local tax revenue available to be certified by the county auditor before the School Board can give their budget second reading. Once the state budget is passed, the board would then be required to review their budget for balance again and make corrections to ensure a deficit is avoided. The law also requires that the School Board to conduct an annual mid-year review and, again, if expenditures outpace revenue, they would be required to take action to maintain a balanced budget and avoid deficit spending. Additionally, the new law requires the Charleston County School District to hold public hearings before closing any school.
The Charleston County School District operated with a deficit in FY 2015 and have a projected deficit in FY 2016. Moody's Credit Agency downgraded the School District's credit rating earlier this month due to the current deficit.
Stavrinakis says the new law is a common sense way to keep the school district from continuing to spend more money than they have available.
"Financial mismanagement and unconstitutional deficit spending in the Charleston County School District are forcing talk of teacher layoffs, program cuts, school closings, credit downgrades and tax increases," said Rep. Leon Stavrinakis. "As a father of three children in Charleston schools and a tax payer, I take this issue very seriously. This new law simply requires our School Board to only spend what is available and to make sure their staff doesn't overspend during the year once their budget is adopted. Balanced budgets and fiscal discipline are the law in South Carolina. This legislation puts a series of checks and balances in place to make sure our laws requiring balanced budgets are followed. I'm pleased that Governor Haley saw the merit of this legislation and signed it into law."