House Gives Key Approval to $7B Spending Plan

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - Republicans say K-12 public schools are a big winner in the House budget plan, but Democrats say the plan still doesn't meet the state's obligation to education.

A 115-2 vote late Tuesday in the House gave key approval to its $7 billion spending plan for state taxes. It adds more than $180 million to K-12 education in the fiscal year starting July 1, as well as $12 million toward covering district employees' rising health insurance premiums.

But Democratic Rep. James Smith says that's still far from where the funding should be.

He proposed increasing the "base student cost" to $2,742 per student under a formula set by a 1977 state law that's adjusted annually for inflation. That would cost an additional $537 million.

Republican Rep. Kenny Bingham says that's unrealistic.

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