Across South Carolina

State sees shortfall in tax collections


COLUMBIA --- South Carolina will collect $90 million less in taxes this year than anticipated, economists said Monday, a shortfall that will likely force lawmakers to tap an emergency fund for the current year's budget and trim spending or raise taxes for the budget they're now debating.

A slump in tax revenues that help make up the bulk of the $7 billion budget had been anticipated because of the weakening economy, but the shortfall projected by the Board of Economic Advisors was $40 million steeper than what was forecast last week by state senators as they crafted the spending plan for the next fiscal year.

"We've said for months that this year's projections for budget growth were far too optimistic, and unfortunately today those concerns were shown to be founded," Gov. Mark Sanford said in a statement.

National Guard unit begins return to U.S.

COLUMBIA --- The first members of a South Carolina National Guard unit deployed in Afghanistan are beginning to return home.

Members of the 218th Brigade Combat Team began arriving early Monday morning at Fort Bragg in North Carolina.

About 1,600 South Carolina guardsmen have been deployed with the 218th, which shipped out last April for a yearlong deployment in Afghanistan.

It was the largest single unit deployment from the South Carolina National Guard since World War II.

The team was part of a force training the Afghan National Army and the Afghan National Police. More than 100 guardsmen arrived on Monday's flight. The rest of the soldiers are scheduled to return by mid-May.

Severed hands, feet found in two homes

GREENVILLE --- Authorities in South Carolina are investigating the discovery of severed hands and feet at two homes about a mile apart.

Greenville County Coroner's investigator Scott Ramsey says the body parts were found early Monday in black plastic bags.

Greenville police Cpl. Jason Rampey says a woman found body parts near her apartment. A second person soon reported a similarly gruesome find inside a home about a mile away.

Cpl. Rampey says the callers are related, but he wouldn't say how.

Authorities aren't sure if the body parts are from the same person and wouldn't say which parts were found where. Cpl. Ramsey says investigators found very little blood.

-- Edited from wire reports