Education, health care cut in Senate's budget

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COLUMBIA --- Education and health care programs will be cut by at least $44 million under a spending plan approved by the Senate Finance Committee.

That figure includes some, but not all, of the $30 million in special project and pork spending approved by the House. It also includes items that have been in the budget for years.

The Senate Finance Committee released details of the $7.1 billion spending plan Friday afternoon.

They show cuts in a wide range of special projects, including some state support for Charleston's Spoleto arts festival, Boys and Girls Clubs, health care clinics and hydrogen fuel research.

The $250,000 taken from Spoleto quickly caught the eye of Senate Minority Leader John Land. The Manning Democrat's wife serves on Spoleto's board.

"Every dollar they get helps South Carolina," Mr. Land said.

State funding for the arts festival has been cut in previous budgets and vetoed by Gov. Mark Sanford, but it has typically been restored.

While public K-12 schools got more money in per-pupil funding and for teacher salaries, the Senate panel did cut education-related programs, including $1.6 million for young adult education and a half-million from Boys and Girls Clubs that do school-related programs.

"There's some good benefit to that. It helps kids do their homework when they don't get the kind of attention they deserve," House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dan Cooper said.

The Piedmont Republican said he hadn't had a chance to look in detail at changes the Senate had made to the budget the House passed last month.

Higher-education programs took big reductions, too, particularly for building projects or new programs.

The Senate took $5 million from hydrogen research; $1.5 million from a College of Charleston science center; $1.3 million from an ethical leadership program at the University of South Carolina Upstate; $1.2 million from The Citadel for computer equipment; and $1 million South Carolina State University planned to spend on delayed maintenance on its aging buildings.

The biggest reductions came in several health care agencies. For instance, Health and Human Services took a $7.7 million base budget cut and Department of Social Services lost $3.7 million.


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