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S.C. Senators welcome lottery windfall

Apr 21, 2004, 6:43 am

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South Carolina Lottery

State senators were excited Tuesday to learn the S.C. lottery is bringing in more money than expected and, therefore, more money for the state to spend.

The Senate Finance Committee is planning to meet today to divvy up $341 million in lottery proceeds for next year a third more than this years take.

Some senators, led by Nikki Setzler, D-Lexington, wanted to bend the rules and use as much money as possible to pay for K-12 education. But others, including finance panel chairman Hugh Leatherman, R-Florence, said the priority needed to be college scholarships, as promised when voters approved the lottery.

Senators were expected to vote Tuesday on how to spend the money. But Leatherman said he wanted to meet with his subcommittee chairmen first.

This raised the ire of Sen. Bill Branton, R-Dorchester, who said that all 23 finance committee members should decide how to spend the money, not Leatherman and his closest allies.

Senators also were frustrated that they had approved the bulk of next years $5.3 billion budget last Thursday but have yet to see any documentation on how much money would go to state agencies. We need to see a spreadsheet, Setzler said.

Leatherman assured senators hed have documentation for them, perhaps as soon as today.

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