The $6.6 billion spending plan for the fiscal year that begins July 1 won key approval after a marathon session that stretched until after 2 a.m. Wednesday on a 71-43 vote. Tuesday’s debate featured two failed attempts to put a limit on tuition at state funded colleges, one by Horry County Republican Thad Viers and one by Lexington County Republican Nikki Haley. A number of amendments presented by House Democrats aimed at stepping up a number of social programs were systematically tabled by the majority Republican House much to the chagrin of Williamsburg County Democrat Ken Kennedy who could not hide his frustration when a measure by Minority Leader Harry Ott was tabled.
A distraught Kennedy took the podium to rail at House Republicans. ” My leader introduced an amendment for $250,000 to advertise for the Chips ( State Children’s Health Insurance) program, and you guys voted it down just like that! Please somebody help me. Pastor you need to pray that these Christians in here understand that they are here to help people.”
Lawmakers gave initial approval to a $2.5 billion basic spending package for the state’s public schools. The school budget includes allowing teachers more time to get a $7500 incentive for becoming national board certified.
While the state will receive $2.84 billion in stimulus money, Governor Mark Sanford on a statewide tour this week said he wants to use the $700 million under his discretion to pay down the state’s debt and contingent liabilities…Sanford once again was very critical of the stimulus plan. ” I think it is an incredibly bad idea that will not have the effect that’s desired, will dig our nation further into debt, and will cause substantial negative side effects that people aren’t thinking about down the road.” Thursday Sanford tabbed Comptroller General Richard Eckstrom as chairman of a group that will oversee stimulus spending.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Hugh Leatherman of Florence introduced a resolution to allow the legislature to spend the money that Sanford opposes. Leatherman says he isn’t happy about the need to use the stimulus money, but says the state has no choice. He says without the stimulus money, key state programs would be cut.