In This Edition: The S.C. Board of Economic Advisors forecasts an extra $2B toward general fund for state’s 2020-21 budget. … The Columbia area’s COMET bus system might have to repay $1.4M in penny tax money, amid talks with SCDOR. … Lexington man pleads guilty to wire fraud scheme that stole $1M from SC Dumpster rental company. … Booking site Hooper says Thanksgiving, Christmas air fare deals available for flights from SC airports.

BEA Forecasts an Extra $2B Toward General Fund for State’s 2020-21 Budget

The S.C. Board of Economic Advisors told state lawmakers to anticipate an additional $2 billion to appropriate for the 2020-21 fiscal year, thanks to $815 million in new recurring dollars and a one-time surplus of $1.019 billion from a growing economy. The state’s projected record amount of new income would lift the general fund budget to $10.2 billion. Some lawmakers are saying the recurring funds can help pay for teacher raises, while the money for one-time costs could support state prison security upgrades and university maintenance. S.C. House budget chief Murrell Smith told The State he expects an emphasis on collaboration of priorities with the Senate Finance Chairman Hugh Leatherman and Gov. Henry McMaster. While Gov. McMaster will reveal his budget priorities in January, he tweeted, “A surplus means prioritizing and funding the state’s most critical needs, then returning the rest to the taxpayers or cutting taxes.” Senate Majority Leader Shane Massey tweeted, “A $10B General Fund budget is too high. An additional $815M in RECURRING revenue means we are taking more than we need. It’s time for tax reform and a reduction in the highest income tax rates in the Southeast.” You can read the BEA’s FY 2020-21 Preliminary Forecast here. (The State)

Columbia-Area Bus System Might Have to Repay $1.4M in Penny Tax Money

The S.C. Department of Revenue has ruled as impermissible $1.4 million in penny tax money received by the Columbia-area’s publicly funded COMET bus system, and the two entities are negotiating what the bus system will be obligated to repay, according toe COMET’s board chairman. “There are some things they (the DOR) think it can’t be spent on, and we do, and we can’t see how they decided those were the things it couldn’t be spent on,” Ron Anderson told The State. The S.C. Supreme Court had ruled that the State Transportation Act dictates that nearly all Richland County’s road tax funds must be spent on capital costs, and penny funding accounts for around $19 million of the bus system’s $24 million annual budget. The bus system generates $5 million from rider fares and state funding, and Anderson considers it “fortunate” that COMET has a revenue source that can be diverted to repay anything owed back to the DOR.  (The State)

Lexington Man Pleads Guilty to Wire Fraud Scheme That Stole $1M from SC Dumpster Rental Company

A Lexington man who worked as the IT manager for a South Carolina Dumpster rental company has pleaded guilty in federal court to embezzling more than $1 million. William Tye Grisel, 39, who formerly worked at the Columbia call center of Big Red Box as a national Dumpster salesperson, pleaded guilty to wire fraud, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Among his roles in charge of the company’s phone systems, computer hardware, servers and email systems, he also paid search optimization companies that generated marketing calls. Federal prosecutors say Grisel launched a company called Local List that fraudulently sold call lists generated from other search engines as its own and over three years charged Big Red Box $1,049,996. A judge will set a sentencing date after reviewing a sentencing report. (Columbia Regional Business Report)

Booking Site: Holiday Air Fare Deals Available for Flights from SC Airports

For Thanksgiving and Christmas travelers seeking round-trip domestic air fare, Charleston International has the state’s lowest average prices thanks to a growing list of air carriers and destinations, according to Hopper, a travel booking site. The average “good deal” from Charleston for a round-trip Christmas flight is $313, down 10% from last year. Greenville-Spartanburg has the second-lowest fares, while Columbia has the highest average fares of the state’s four largest airports, trailed by Myrtle Beach. There are strategies and windows to get the best bargains from S.C. airports for careful planners and procrastinators alike. (Post and Courier)