Pandemic takes a 43% bite out of South Carolina's state revenues

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Tuesday, May 12, 2020

South Carolina unemployment

The coronavirus pandemic is hurting more than people’s health. It’s also hurting South Carolina’s bottom line.

New revenue forecasts are out, and experts say losses could continue to grow.

The South Carolina board of economic advisers says that in April, revenue for the state was down $400 million, or 43%, compared to April 2019. Economists do say tax collections from new “internet sales” increased in April, however.

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According to Frank Rainwater, executive director of the South Carolina Office of Revenue and Fiscal Affairs, that decline was more than anticipated. He says the reason for this is the fact that some South Carolinians are opting to wait to file their taxes. State tax deadlines were pushed back to July 15.

Rainwater says state officials believe the state will recoup some of that money.

“We just don’t have a lot of hard data to differentiate between what is going on,” he said. “We really won’t know what is going on until July or August, when the books close.”

South Carolina lawmakers are expected to pass a measure next week that would keep state government funded at the same levels as it is right now. They hope to be back in Columbia to work on a new budget plan in september.

Research economists like Joseph Von Nessen say it might be a while before lawmakers know how much money they'll have to work with.

“Everything is in flux,” he said. “These forecasts are constantly having to be reevaluated because the speed of the recovery is being evaluated. How quickly we are going to get to a point where the economy recovers.”

Von Nessen says he anticipates South Carolina will make a recovery in the second half of the year.

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