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Lawmakers expect fierce debate on $61M lottery tax windfall

March 9, 2019
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South Carolina Rep. Bill Herbkersman sits at his desk in the South Carolina House with his copy of the states $9 billion budget on Thursday, March 7, 2019, in Columbia, South Carolina. The state budget includes $159 million for raises for teachers. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Collins)

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — In South Carolina’s nearly $9 billion budget, one small pile of $61 million is likely to get a lot more attention than any other when the House starts debating Monday.

The money comes from income taxes the state should get after the Mega Millions lottery pays a lump sum of $878 million to the person who turned in the winning ticket days ago from last October’s drawing.

The plan in the Republican-dominated House is to add $35 million to the lottery tax windfall and give each of South Carolina’s 2 million income tax payers a $50 rebate check.

Other lawmakers have different ideas for the money that serendipitously fell into their laps.

Democratic Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter of Orangeburg proposes a 2 percent raise to all state workers making under $50,000.