Senators Debate How to Address Problems at SC State

6:03 PM, Feb 6, 2014   |    comments
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Columbia, SC (WLTX) -- Senators spent time Thursday debating how to address the financial problems at South Carolina State University.

The school recently announced it to have shortfall for this year's budget.

A letter from school president Thomas Elzey to the South Carolina Budget and Control Board estimated a $4.4 million operating deficit and a $13 million cash shortfall.

State Senator Shane Massey took to the Senate floor to call for hearings to get down to the cause of the school's issues.

"I really want to look at what the root of the problem is because this has been going on for a number of years and it's not something that President Elzey created," Massey said. "He's inherited it and he's trying his best to deal with it, but we need to try and help him through this issue."

Other senators, including South Carolina State University alums, said they should let the Budget and Control Board process play out first. They said historically black colleges and universities like South Carolina State were hurt by changes to federal funding for students.

"That plan is first supposed to be addressed to the Budget and Control Board. Let the Budget and Control Board first do what it needs to do and if the General Assembly needs to come in after that to take a look at it, then we'll do that," said Sen. John Scott, a graduate of South Carolina State University.

He and Senator John Matthews of Orangeburg County said Massey was grandstanding and picking on the school.

"I don't think what I saw today was fair to the institution and that's why I took to the floor," said Scott. 

Massey says he is always concerned with deficits and he is worried doing nothing will not help the problem.

Senate President John Courson says he plans to have the school's leaders in as part of regularly scheduled meetings.

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