The South Carolina House has amended the state’s budget proposal and sent it back to the Senate, after voting 71-44 for an amendment that would cut $50 million from the general fund.
Democrats say the 40-page amendment that would affect the poor and working class, limiting Medicaid prescriptions to three per month, impacting federally-funded health centers and 4-to-1 matching federal health funds and eliminating $1 million from rural hospitals grants. It cuts kidney disease prevention efforts, $850,000 for free medical clinics and more than $5 million that was slated for the AIDS/HIV treatment program.
Richland County Democrat Joe Neal said the amendment is payback for some members not overriding Governor Sanford’s veto of a proposed increase in court fees last week.
He and Minority Leader Harry Ott said the cuts will have severe outcomes.
Ways and Means Chairman Dan Cooper defended his amendment.
The proposal would allow $22 million for the Department of Public Safety and $24 million for the Judicial system.
Minority leader Harry Ott was upset that democrats didn’t have a chance to look over the 40-page amendment full of cuts before debating it.
The cuts would free up $2.7 million for the Department of Natural Resources and $3 million for House operations. Richland County Democrat Todd Rutherford spoke sarcastically to those supporting the plan.
The plan also cuts $1.7 million for smoking cessation programs, $2 million each for colorectal screenings and breast and cervical cancer screenings.
The bill has now gone back to the Senate and will eventually end up in a conference committee but legislative staff won’t speculate when what will be. Statehouse leaders said a few weeks ago that lawmakers might end the session a few weeks early to save money if work on the budget was completed early.