COLUMBIA - The Senate's budget-writing committee rejected an effort to punish two South Carolina universities for assigning gay-themed books to freshmen.

Senate Majority Leader Harvey Peeler on Wednesday recommended adopting the House's proposed $70,000 cuts. But the Senate Finance Committee rejected that proposal by a vote of 7-11.

The issue will likely resurface next week as the full Senate debates the budget.

The House's budget plan cuts $17,162 from the University of South Carolina Upstate and $52,000 from the College of Charleston for their book selections. Peeler says the Senate should continue the statement those cuts send.

Opponents included Senate President Pro Tem John Courson, whose subcommittee writes the budget for public colleges. It did not recommend keeping the cuts. Courson has said the Legislature shouldn't micromanage universities' curriculum.