The South Carolina Senate on Tuesday approved a $6 billion spending bill that includes cuts for Medicaid and welfare programs, a more than $100 million boost for public schools, and relief for businesses on their unemployment taxes. The 23-16 vote approving the plan comes after nearly five weeks of debate.
Senators appropriated an additional $105 million more toward public schools. Teachers and school boards said the funds would head off furloughs and job cuts. Most of the state’s public colleges stand to lose 6 percent of their general taxpayer budget.
The state Medicaid program found ways to trim $200 million from its planned spending. Earlier this year, Health and Human Services reduced or eliminated a variety of Medicaid services, including adult dental and vision services.
The plan also locks in cuts made earlier this year by the Department of Social Services, which include reductions in welfare-to-work payments for an average mother of two from $270 to $216 monthly. That is among the lowest in the nation.
The bill now heads to the House. It’s not clear if legislators will send the spending plan to Governor Nikki Haley before adjourning on June 2. Lawmakers plan to return on June 14 for a wrap-up session and to draw new election district lines.