$10M Heritage golf loan gets House approval

Rally on the Statehouse grounds to find funding for AIDS patients.

On Wednesday, the South Carolina House voted 69-43 to allow the state to loan Beaufort County as much as $10 million to protect Hilton Head TMs Annual Heritage Golf Tournament.

Officials said the loan is only an offer and will only be used if tournament organizers fail to find a sponsor.

The money would come from the state's insurance reserve fund.

According to a Clemson University study, the tournament supports 12,000 jobs and brings $87 million to the state.

Supporters said the tournament is too valuable to lose.

"Absolute absurdity, 1260 jobs in Beaufort County and for some ideological idea, some ridiculous pie in the sky theory, we're going to let them walk out of the door maybe, said Rep. Leon Stavrinakis, D- Charleston.

"If you've never been down there - you don't have to go, you can watch it on national TV as they show beautiful Hilton Head Island...all it does it bring people down to Hilton Head, not just during the tournament, but all times during the year," said Rep. J. Todd Rutherford, D. Richland.

GOP Representative Jim Merrill of Daniel Island also said the state must show its support or risk the tournament going elsewhere.

However, opponents said the loan would offer a safety blanket, removing the urgency for golf tournament organizers to find a sponsor.

"If we are turning around and talking about budget cuts, to education and disabilities, how in the world are you going to go home and tell them that you just authorized the tournament to possibly borrow $10 million," said Rep. Nikki Haley, R " Lexington.

The Heritage Golf Tournament is the only PGA stop in the South Carolina.

Meanwhile outside the Statehouse, a group is rallying to try to save money that was cut from AIDS funding in the same proposed budget.

All funding for HIV/AIDS support, a total of $5.9 million, is missing from the budget.

Cuts to other programs like education and health has also drummed up a lot of opposition.

Keep checking back to and WACH FOX News for reactions and more on both sides of this story.

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And read more on the HIV/AIDS rally on the Statehouse grounds.