• The Latest: Lawmakers limit time for new budget proposals

    By: Associated Press

    COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - The Latest on the South Carolina Budget Debate (all times local):

    2:30 p.m.

    After several hours of debate, Senate lawmakers unanimously agree to no longer consider changes to the budget proposal after 3 p.m. unless there are technical or balance corrections that need to be made.

    Senate Finance Committee Chairman Hugh Leatherman made the motion after several hours of debate Thursday.

    The Florence Republican said it is his hope to conclude budget discussions Thursday and said he did not want the progress on the budget to be impeded by additional proposals.

    Leatherman encouraged lawmakers to utilize their staff to ensure any amendments they would like to offer is done prior to that time.


    11:45 a.m.

    As South Carolina lawmakers resume debates on the state's spending plan, one lawmaker introduces a proposal that would redirect money from the windfall of October's $878 million Mega Millions jackpot toward the state's retirement system.

    The Senate's plan calls for using the money expected in income tax revenue from the winnings to provide $50 rebate checks per tax return filed. Lawmakers say if a couple files jointly, they will only receive one $50 check and it will cost the state $700,000 to mail them.

    Republican Sen. Greg Hembree says it makes more sense for lawmakers to allocate that money toward reducing the unfunded liability of the state's pension plan. The Little River lawmaker said the state needs to funnel as much resources to pay down the liability over time.

    Lawmakers voted to reject Hembree's proposal, 29-15.


    10:48 a.m.

    Members of the South Carolina Senate continue their discussions on how the state should spend its $9 billion budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

    Senators resumed debates Thursday on the Senate floor and are expected to introduce more amendments to the Senate Finance Committee's spending plan which was approved by the committee earlier this month.

    Lawmakers spent the majority of Wednesday introducing and approving new proposals into the spending plan including a provision that would prevent money from the budget being used for onshore infrastructure associated with drilling and seismic testing for oil and gas off the South Carolina coast.

    Senate Finance Committee Chairman Hugh Leatherman said he intends to conclude budget debates Thursday.

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