No break for the downtrodden in SC budget debate

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -- South Carolina legislators are complaining about spending on social welfare programs while approving tax breaks for businesses with records of firing people as they debate a $6 billion proposed general fund budget.

The Senate has agreed to give employers a $100 million break on unemployment taxes needed to cover federal jobless benefits loans.

But they've also agreed to cut six weeks from the state's 26-week maximum unemployment benefit, reduce Medicaid coverage and payments to doctors and hospitals and cut welfare-to-work payments.

The state's economy is recovering and Sue Berkowitz of the advocacy group South Carolina Appleseed Legal Justice Center says extra cash should go into Medicaid programs that draw federal matching funds.

But Republican Sen. Tom Davis of Beaufort said the state can't continue to pour money into that entitlement program.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)