Date of Award

May 2020

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Policy Studies

Committee Member

Lori Dickes

Committee Member

William Bridges

Committee Member

Kenneth Robinson

Committee Member

Robert Carey


This dissertation analyzes the budget strategy and behavioral patterns of 36 agencies in South Carolina, with the purpose of understanding the condition of equilibrium and disturbances in South Carolina state’s budgeting process. This analysis will further use new variables to better our understanding of state’s budgeting process. Research paper one examines the impact of the relationships among the governor’s recommendations and agencies’ political environment, type, method of head selection, agency size and agency age on legislative appropriations. Research paper two is a qualitative analysis of budget success, strategies and outcomes Finally, research paper three examines the determinants of higher education funding and the need/ merit-based program. A brief conclusion for each paper is presented followed by recommendations and suggestion for future research.

Essay 1 examines internal and external factors affecting agency appropriation. The analysis provides new perspectives on the South Carolina budgeting process. Agencies use different approach in presenting their budget request to governor and legislators. The recognition and pattern of differences in gubernatorial recommendation provides evidence that some agencies are more aggressive in their request than others. There is evidence that agencies do appeal to legislatures when governor cut their request. In some cases, legislatures do honor appeals made by agencies when their request are cut by governors. In most cases of support for long-term budget growth, the legislature appears to be the most crucial actor.

The governor’s recommendation does not appear to support the idea of budget expansion in moderately acquisitive agencies. The results confirm that agencies that request the largest incremental change in the budget will receive the largest percentage growth over their current budget, while agencies requesting little or no incremental change will receive little to no growth in their budget. While this relationship may seem obvious, it is important confirmation of the “budgeting game” in practice through a research lens. In South Carolina, strong gubernatorial appointive power is found in conjunction with weak gubernatorial budget power. The principal feature which makes the South Carolina governor’s budget powers weak is that the governor does not have sole responsibility for preparing the budget. therefore, in a weak position to influence the budgetary success achieved by state agencies.

Essay two examines agency budget strategies and success. One important variable determining the behavior of participants in the budget process is the adequacy of revenues as confirmed by one of the state’s budget officials during the qualitative interviews. The primary concern of professional budget managers during deficit periods is finding resources to fund programs while at the same time curbing an increase in spending. This research reveals that agencies have two primary budget goals: one focuses on agency growth and expansion and the other on agency stability. Agencies interested in expansion may focus on budget growth, i.e. a large percentage increase in appropriation, while agencies interested in stability may focus on achieving a larger percentage of the current request appropriated. In summary, budget success is dictated by agencies using various approaches that suits their mission and need. Budget official reported that gaining support from the governor provides an avenue for program expansion, implying that budget officials are not just concerned about higher appropriation alone.

Essay three examines South Carolina budgets for higher education and which factors best predict changes in state appropriations. This study found evidence that state spending in other priority categories appears to displace funding in higher education. Several conditions can impact the ways in which states finance post-secondary institutions. the share of funding that higher education receives is not reduced when all categories of Medicaid receive increased funding with some exception: Medicaid recipient as a percentage of population and statewide Medicaid expenditure are the only categories that dampen higher education funding as this category increases. Other categories of state spending on Medicaid as a share of state revenue and the number of Medicaid recipients indicate an increase in spending for higher education. In contrast to other findings, this study found a statistical positive relationship between merit/need based scholarship program. An increase in need-based scholarships to private institutions, Palmetto Fellows and the LIFE Program are associated with increases in need-based scholarships to public universities. The assertion that state spend less when revenue increase is not significant, this study point out that increase in state revenue does increase funding for need/merit-based scholarship program.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.