State agencies prepare for two years of trimming budgets

COLUMBIA, SC (WMBF) - State leaders say to expect two more years before the state budge turns around with the economy, and that has many agencies wondering what they'll have to cut next.

Florence School District One Chief Financial Officer Luther Rabon said the district has lost more than $8 million in state funding in the past two years. He said the budget was helped by attrition, people retiring and by stimulus money, but he says with stimulus money ending this year, the district is already facing a $4 million to $5 million loss heading into next year's budget.

"It's going to be a tough two years," Rabon said. "In fact, when the stimulus money runs out, that's going to be really tough because like I said earlier, those expenditures are going to go back into our general fund," said Rabon. "So we are going to be looking at some pretty serious cuts over the next two years. To be quite honest with you, it will affect the classroom. Class size numbers will go up."

Rabon says it'll be tough for leaders to find a balanced budget and keep up with standards set by the state. "That's the fallacy of the system we have," he said. "It doesn't compensate for budget cuts like we're having. The standards are still there that we have to maintain. And that's why we're doing all we can in Florence One to protect our classrooms," he said.

Meanwhile, the Darlington County Council on Aging wonders how they'll keep feeding hundreds of seniors a warm meal each day. Right now the group feeds more than 5,000 meals a month.

Seniors say on a fixed income, it may be the only warm nutritious meal they would get in a day. "They're all probably like me, they probably don't eat at home like if they were to come up here and get a hot meal in the middle of the day," said Jeannette Yow. "If I don't come up here, I usually don't eat during the day. And two, it helps me to be with other people my age and fellowship."

The director of the Council on Aging says there are 150 people in Darlington County on a waiting list to join the program. The director says if cuts are made, some already on the plan may be taken off.

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