News Column

Bailout plan for S.C. State gets approval of Legislature, but how soon money will come is unclear

June 6, 2014

By Dale Linder-Altman, The Times and Democrat, Orangeburg, S.C.



June 06--The State Legislature approved on Thursday a bailout for South Carolina State University, but funding may be a long time coming.

Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter, D-Orangeburg, said that people need to understand that the university's problems are years and years in the making and there's no overnight solution.

"The focus now is to put a plan in place so that a system is developed that is accountable and transparent," she said.

"The goal of this budgetary plan is to come up with specific steps needed to dig the university out of this hole and keep it out of future budgetary holes."

S.C. State has been operating on a deficit for some years and asked the Legislature in February for more than $13 million to meet its deficit and cover operating expenses through June.

In April the Budget and Control Board agreed to allow the university to borrow $6 million to meet its most pressing deficits.

But before the budgetary plan can be developed, a Blue Ribbon Advisory Committee, made up of five former and current university presidents, will have to bring on some new members.

The bill is a compromise between the Senate, which developed the Blue Ribbon Committee, and the House, which added a proviso calling for a broader membership on the panel.

The House wanted a "working group" made up of experts in a number of areas, including finance, procurement, human resources, athletic administration, university foundation administration and the mission and administration of Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

But Sen. John Matthews, D-Bowman, who along with Sen. Brad Hutto, D-Orangeburg, proposed the bill, said that "no one in the state has more experience" than the original members of the Blue Ribbon Committee, and they will help improve the image of the S.C. State.

"One of the things we've got to do is generate confidence back in the university," Matthews said. "This is the way to generate that confidence -- to have an independent group that really understands higher education as we originally planned. We were trying to keep it simple with people who understood higher education."

Cobb-Hunter noted that the House's proviso also requires the working committee to provide monthly reports to the local legislative delegation.

"That is a way for the delegation to be in the loop as far as the progress that is being made on development of the budgetary a plan," she said.

Additionally, the House proviso states that the "working group shall provide periodic progress reports regarding the development of the budgetary plan" to the chairman of both the Senate Finance Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee at their requests.

Once the budgetary plan is devised, the committee sends it and any recommendations for funding to the Joint Bond Review Committee. Within 15 days of approval by the JBRC, the Budget and Control Board and the state treasurer will determine from which accounts funds can be transferred to the university.

Cobb-Hunter also noted that S.C. State is to receive a $1 million increase in state funding through the 2014-15 state budget approved by the Legislature on Wednesday.

Contact the writer: dlinder-altman@timesanddemocrat.com or 803-533-5529.

___

(c)2014 The Times and Democrat (Orangeburg, S.C.)

Visit The Times and Democrat (Orangeburg, S.C.) at thetandd.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services


For more stories on investments and markets, please see HispanicBusiness' Finance Channel



Source: Times & Democrat (Orangeburg, SC)