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      Board cuts state spending by 5 percent

      State Treasurer Converse Chellis was the swing vote in a 3-2 decision Tuesday to proactively trim state spending by 5 percent. State economists had recommended a 2.6 percent cut. / Courtesy State of S.C.

      COLUMBIA -- The five-member state Budget and Control Board voted Tuesday to cut state spending 5 percent across the board as the state suffers record unemployment and reduced revenues.

      The 5 percent cut amounts to a total of $245 million dollars. It follows three previous rounds of spending reductions approved in June, July and November.

      Tuesday's cut was nearly double the 2.6 percent that state economists had recommended was necessary to deal with declining state revenue due to the economic recession.

      Treasurer Converse Chellis proposed the larger cut and was joined by Gov. Mark Sanford and Comptroller General Richard Eckstrom to approve the spending reduction in a 3-2 vote.

      Senate Finance Committee Chairman Hugh Leatherman and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dan Cooper opted for a smaller spending reduction.

      Chellis said he opted to cut spending further now in anticipation of state revenues continue to fall. This is the fourth reduction in the state budget since lawmakers approved a more than $20 billion spending plan in June.