Across South Carolina

Legislators to decide on Haley's vetoes


COLUMBIA --- South Carolina legislators are expected to decide today whether to override Gov. Nikki Haley's vetoes and allow several poor, rural school districts to borrow money to pay operating expenses as they climb out of the recession.

The Republican governor says long-term debt should never be used to pay short-term expenses.

"Borrowing money to cover operational expenses is an extremely dangerous practice that puts students, teachers and taxpayers at risk going forward -- just look at California," her spokesman, Rob Godfrey, said Monday.

Bonds are normally issued to build new schools or pay for major renovations.

Officials in Colleton County, Florence District 4 and Hampton District 2 say they need a way to tide them over after several years of budget cuts.

Residents ask for new U.S. House district

COLUMBIA --- Residents of South Carolina's northeastern counties packed a Senate redistricting hearing and asked lawmakers to create a new U.S. House district that keeps their counties together.

Some packed a bus chartered for the hearing Monday. Some wore buttons that asked lawmakers to keep the state's new seventh district in the state's Pee Dee region. That area includes the counties along the coast and Myrtle Beach and rural counties inland and along the state line with North Carolina.

They wanted senators to adopt a plan the House has approved.

Agreement signed to allow harbor study

CHARLESTON --- After months of political debate and maneuvering, an agreement was finally signed Monday allowing a study of deepening the Charleston Harbor shipping channel so it can handle the larger ships that will routinely call when the Panama Canal is widened in three years.

Several hundred people turned out at the South Carolina State Ports Authority passenger terminal as authority president and CEO Jim Newsome and Col. Jason Kirk, of the Army Corps of Engineers, signed the cost-sharing agreement.

Kirk said the agreement means the corps can proceed with a study to determine whether deepening the harbor beyond its current 45 feet "is economically beneficial and environmentally acceptable to the nation."

Money for the study had been caught in the prolonged fight over congressional earmarks.

Last month, the Corps of Engineers allocated $50,000 for the study during the remainder of the fiscal year at the end of September. That got the study on track and opened the way for Monday's agreement.

The corps said it hopes to complete the $20 million Charleston study in four years. More money will have to allocated in future years to pay for the study.

The work of deepening the channel to 50 feet is expected to cost another $300 million.

U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said he would work with fellow Sen. Jim DeMint to develop a bill where harbor deepening projects are based on merit, not pressure from special interests.