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House passes budget, sends plan to Senate

COLUMBIA --- A $5.3 billion spending plan that increases spending on public charter schools and cuts education spending elsewhere won final approval in the House on Wednesday.

The House with little debate approved the budget bill for the fiscal year that begins July 1 and sent it to the Senate.

House Democrats and Republicans left town and are taking next week off as Senate committees continue working on their version of the plan.

"The funding per pupil for education was better than I anticipated and I thought that the funding for health care was a little bit than I anticipated," said Senate Minority Leader John Land, a Manning Democrat. I hope we'll be able to do more."

The budget bill cuts $125 million from Medicaid payments to doctors and hospitals. That reduction was central element in closing a $700 million budget gap. Much of the rest was tied to federal bailout cash that legislators told agencies was gone and wouldn't be available for them to use.

Possible 2012 hopeful meets with governor

COLUMBIA --- Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty met with South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley at the Statehouse as he mulls a presidential bid and made his second swing into this early primary state.

Pawlenty visited with Haley on Wednesday.

Haley's endorsement in the first GOP contest in the South would be a prize for any presidential campaigner. Pawlenty called it a courtesy visit.

The two-term governor last visited the state in June for GOP fundraising events. His Wednesday visit included a stop at an Aiken County Republican group's meeting.


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