COLUMBIA -- A conference committee began negotiating a final version of a nearly $5 billion state spending plan Wednesday, with disagreements looming on fees the Senate tacked in its budget and tougher limits on abortion for state workers and their families through the state health insurance plan.
The panel met for a little more than an hour but didn't address the large sticking points.
The Senate counted on more than $50 million in fees to patch together its budget. That included more than $24 million generated from increased civil court filing costs. Gov. Mark Sanford vetoed the court fees. The House couldn't muster the votes needed to override the veto. A second attempt is expected today.
Because House members rejected the fees, the House's final version of the budget cuts at least $5.6 million from AIDS prevention and treatment programs, $4 million from colorectal, breast and cervical cancer screening and $1.7 million for smoking cessation.
The largest single cut was for the Department of Social Services, which expected $18.4 million to cover changes made in federal welfare program funding. Meanwhile, the proposal imposes a strict new limit of three Medicaid prescription drugs to save $10.7 million.