Budget debate begins with spirited discussion on restoring unive - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Budget debate begins with spirited discussion on restoring university funds

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Representatives in the state House of Representatives are crafting the state's budget before sending it over to the Senate.

But first, there was plenty of debate for a small piece of the pie.

"Yesterday, we had a regrettable debate. The kind of conversation the late night talk show ridicule our state about all the time," said Rep. Walt McLeod.

The Republican-controlled house voted against restoring $70,000 worth of funding to the College of Charleston and the University of South Carolina Upstate after it was revealed the schools' reading lists included 2 textbooks with same-sex themes.

"They're books! People read them, they get ideas," said Rep. Todd Rutherford. "Sometimes they read those books and don't like any of those ideas. That's the educational experience. That's what the college experience is all about. It should not be what the budget debate is about."

Rep. Kirkman Finlay defended the GOP's position on the floor.

"This is not banning. There's no censorship. We are simply saying as a state legislature, this is what we're going to pay for, and we're not going to pay for this," said Finlay.

In the next few days, lawmakers will also get a chance to change their minds about Medicaid expansion and agree to $11 billion in federal money as part of the Affordable Care Act.

"Without it, we have a new coverage gap of 200,000 people who are very vulnerable, including over 51,000 seniors who have worked all their lives and now just need a bridge for health care insurance security until they get to Medicare," said Rozalynn Goodwin with the South Carolina Hospital Association.

But expansion doesn't look likely, according to several representatives.

"I don't think there's any chance we're going to accept expansion," said Rep. Murrell Smith, Jr. "It's something the state of South Carolina cannot afford right now."

The debate continues through the rest of the week.

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