Legislature sends $7 billion budget to governor

The Associated Press reports that state legislators have forwarded a $7 billion spending plan for the 2008-09 fiscal year to Gov. Mark Sanford for approval. As Seanna Adcox writes:

Legislators who adopted the compromise spending plan Thursday acknowledged the budget likely satisfies no one, but said it's the best they could do during an economic slowdown without raising taxes.

"It's not a mean budget but a lean budget," said Senate Majority Leader Harvey Peeler, R-Gaffney.

The plan covers rising medical costs for state employees, so they don't lose benefits or see premium increases. And it continues to send money collected through fees on property sales to the South Carolina Conservation Bank to preserve open space statewide — a major sticking point between House and Senate members hashing out differences in their plans.

Most agencies were cut between 2.5 percent and 5 percent. Senate Minority Leader John Land was glad the Education Department got more money. Legislators noted it was the only agency to get more.

Sanford has until midnight Wednesday to veto any items he doesn't want in the budget. Sanford has already spoken out about his opposition to deficit spending, claiming it is unconstitutional. Sanford spokesman Joel Sawyer said the governor would pore over the budget for items to veto.