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s the 2003 legislative session begins, the General Assembly and the new executive administration face a number of daunting questions. Education, health care, the environment, government restructuring, economic development, the state's infrastructure, and the environment are among a host of issues that will be addressed in the state in the coming months. And overriding all these issues is the state's projected budget shortfall that shapes invariably the context within which these other issues are debated and must be dealt with if meaningful progress is to be made. It is appropriate and timely, therefore, that the significance of the budget issue in the state's political discussion be reflected in the articles in this issue of Public Policy & Practice.

In an excerpt from her newly published work, Funding Government in South Carolina, Dr. Holley Ulbrich provides an overview of the role that fees and charges play as sources of revenue for state and local government. She notes that over the past decade governments in South Carolina have increasingly relied on fees and charges as revenue sources and cautions that the state may have gone beyond the optimal level of use of such charges.
Mike Shealy's article on the South Carolina Joint Committee on Taxation describes the structure of this important committee as well as it duties. As he notes, among the charges of this committee is to recommend changes to the state's tax structure that results in a stable, equitable and fair tax system that is more easily understandable. In sum, the "systems perspective" on the state's tax structure that this committee provides should prove valuable in addressing the revenue side of the budget equation.

The article by Dr. Jo Anne Anderson and her colleagues addresses funding for a specific – but very large and important – area, public education. As the state has striven to improve performance in the kindergarten through twelfth grade system, corresponding changes have not been made in the amount and distribution of resources available to this system. The authors' discussion of the major challenges facing this system underscores the magnitude of the task that confronts the state in providing adequate and equitably distributed resources for public education.

Finally, Richard Young's piece on performance based budget systems outlines the elements of several approaches to budgeting. In this era of deficits, a budgeting approach based on performance provides a vehicle for policy-makers to use in deciding how to allocate scare public funds. Such an approach may prove valuable to both the state and local governments as they attempt to deal with the current budget situation.

It is obvious that the current budget crisis did not develop overnight, nor will it be solved quickly. But we believe that the articles in this issue provide a basis for addressing some of the major aspects of this problem and will inform our readers as to ideas and processes that, in our estimation, may be of benefit.

As always, we welcome your comments and suggestions on the contents of the journal. Please e-mail any comments to Young-Richard@sc.edu.


CONTACT:

Richard D. Young, Editor in Chief
Public Policy & Practice
Institute for Public Service and
Policy Research
University of South Carolina
Columbia, SC 29208
Phone: (803) 777-0453
Fax: (803) 777-4575
e-mail: young-richard@sc.edu
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