SC budget forecasters expect state revenue losses to grow because of COVID-19

South Carolina budget forecasters expect state revenue losses to grow because of COVID-19

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - As South Carolina begins the reopening process, state economists are taking a look at how the coronavirus pandemic has impacted the state's revenue streams so far this year.

Friday morning, the South Carolina Board of Economic Advisors held a teleconference meeting to discuss this.

According to their estimates, revenue for the state in April was down about $400 million or 43% compared to April 2019. Frank Rainwater, the executive director of the South Carolina Office of Revenue and Fiscal Affairs, said that decline was more than they anticipated.

He said the reason for this is the fact some South Carolinians are opting to wait to file their income taxes. State deadlines were pushed back to July 15. He expects the state to recoup some of that money.

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

South Carolina lawmakers are expected to pass a measure next week that would keep state government funded at current levels until a budget plan for Fiscal Year 2020-21 is approved.

Rainwater said lawmakers are expected to be back in Columbia to work on a new budget plan in September. Research economist Dr. Joseph Von Nessen with the University of South Carolina said it might be awhile before lawmakers know how much money they’ll have to work with.

Budget forecasters said last month they expect the downturn in the economy to wipe out nearly all the state's surplus projected for FY 2020-21.

"Everything is in flux. These forecasts are constantly having to be reevaluated because the speed of the recovery is being evaluated," he said.

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

Rainwater said there are some things that could help bring the economy back to where it was. He said economic restrictions for health and safety reasons are being eased sooner than they expected, some major manufacturers are restarting sooner than expected along with hotels and restaurants.

He did say however, recent GDP data suggests the loss of corporate profits may be greater than they previously estimated.

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