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House And Senate Leaders Reach Deal On South Carolina Budget

The South Carolina State House

South Carolina lawmakers have agreed to a compromise between the House and Senate versions of the state's more than $10 billion budget.

Members of a conference committee voted Thursday to approve the $10.7 billion spending plan for the upcoming year, The Post and Courier reported.

The spending plan includes money the state didn't use this budget year because lawmakers feared a more serious economic downturn in the COVID-19 pandemic.

The budget compromise will give state employees at 2.5% pay raise. Teachers will also receive an additional $1,000 in pay, and law enforcement officers will see a salary bump as well.

The budget is nearly $2 billion more than last year's budget, which lawmakers simply cut-and-pasted from the spending plan the year before due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Lawmakers will return next week so the full House and Senate can approve the deal and send it off to Gov. Henry McMaster, who will consider whether he'll veto any part of the plan before the fiscal year starts July 1.

Other items in the budget deal include:
— $100 million for school construction in poor, rural areas that don't have enough money in local property taxes to pay for it
— $34 million to expand full-day pre-kindergarten for low-income 4-year-olds across the state
— $40 million for college and universities to encourage them not to raise tuition
— $200 million for improvements at the Port of Charleston
— A nurse and police officer in every South Carolina public school