The Latest: S Carolina lawmakers close to passing $9B budget
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — The Latest on the South Carolina budget (all times local):
South Carolina House lawmakers are closer to approving a budget to fund the state government for the coming year.
Legislators voted 112-1 in favor of the House’s version of the $9 billion spending plan which allocates funds for new voting machines and to cover raises for state workers and teachers.
The House’s spending plan was approved for second reading early Wednesday morning.
Members of the House will reconvene later Wednesday morning to give the budget a third reading. The proposal will then go to the Senate for lawmakers to discuss in the coming weeks.
The budget debate in the House has again spent time on abortion.
House Republicans introduced a proposal into budget discussions Tuesday preventing state money from going toward Planned Parenthood to pay for abortions.
Republican Rep. Ashley Trantham of Pelzer cited Gov. Henry McMaster’s similar executive order last year.
Federal law already prohibits federal Medicaid money from being used to pay for abortions with exceptions for cases of rape, incest or when the mother’s life is in danger.
Democratic Rep. Justin Bamberg questioned the wisdom of placing a proposal in the state’s budget that is already part of an ongoing federal lawsuit filed by Planned Parenthood against the state of South Carolina based on McMaster’s actions.
The House has had a debate on abortion during the budget over the last several years.
The House voted to adopt the amendment, 84-31.
Republicans in the South Carolina House have rejected two budget amendments by Democrats to reduce class sizes in schools.
Democratic Rep. Russell Ott of St. Matthews on Tuesday asked the House to restore state-mandated student-to-teacher ratios, which were suspended a decade ago during budget cuts in the Great Recession.
Democratic Rep. Wendy Brawley of Hopkins offered another amendment requiring one teacher for every 15 students in kindergarten to third grade classrooms in rural schools.
Brawley says smaller class sizes are especially helpful in rural districts where there are large populations of African-American students.
Republicans arguing against both proposals say districts need more flexibility and don’t need to be required to spend more money to hire more teachers.
Both amendments failed as almost all of the 79 Republicans among the House’s 123 current members voted against them.
South Carolina lawmakers are starting to debate items in the $9 billion state budget where some of them disagree.
The House started its second day of budget talks Tuesday after spending the day before approving dozens of sections of the budget by large margins and without debate.
The first major debate came in a proposal to give state workers who make less than $100,000 a 2 percent pay raise.
Democratic Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter of Orangeburg suggested an amendment that would give an additional 2 percent raise to state employees who make less than $50,000. The House voted 76-37 against the additional raise.
Other items expected to be debated Tuesday include adding $44 million to freeze tuition for in-state college students and $40 million for new voting machines.