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South Carolina Senate to Debate $10 Billion Budget this Week

South Carolina Senate Finance Committee Budget Meeting 04-20-21
Jeffrey Collins/AP
South Carolina Sen. Sean Bennett, R-Summerville, speaks during a Senate Finance Committee meeting on Tuesday, April 20, 2021, in Columbia, S.C. The Senate Finance Committee approved its version of the state's roughly $10 billion spending plan for the next fiscal year. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Collins)

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina senators are getting ready to debate a state budget that ended up with a lot more money than expected.

Debate begins Tuesday on the roughly $10 billion spending plan that starts July 1. It includes a 2% raise for state employees and a $1,000 raise for all teachers.

In all, South Carolina lawmakers have nearly $1.7 billion extra to spend in the 2021-22 fiscal year. And that does not count $2.1 billion of federal stimulus money Congress approved in March that South Carolina has years to spend.

Senators were given a 30-page spreadsheet as well as a three-page typed summary of more than 65 new items where the extra money could go.

There are dozens of local projects in the committee’s budget, from $2 million to the Mother Emanuel Foundation in Charleston to help pay for a memorial to the nine people killed in a racist massacre in 2015 at the historic African American church to $12 million to renovate Spartanburg’s downtown and $3 million to repair the Hunting Island Lighthouse in the Lowcountry.

Both senators and House members expect to come back in special sessions after May to deal with additional spending and the federal COVID-19 relief money.