Palmetto Sunrise: Budget debate begins in Senate amidst noisy politics

South Carolina Senate Finance Chairman Hugh Leatherman, R-Florence, is expected to lead the Senate's budget debate. (AP Photo/Lou krasky)

The S.C. Senate is expected to begin tackling its $7 billion general fund budget plan today and the rest of the week, with plenty of external politics threatening to distract.

For one, Gov. Nikki Haley’s continued criticism of fellow GOP lawmakers over transportation funding plans and a bond package that would pay for higher education and other projects.

Haley has said that she wants lawmakers to back a transportation plan that comes with a significant income tax reduction, and has compared the borrowing plan to running up the state’s credit card.

She delivered the same message at the GOP convention on Saturday, which featured numerous Republican presidential hopefuls.

The Associated Press’s Bill Barrow wrote that delegates cheered her address, but some lawmakers in attendance were visibly perturbed during the speech.

“I’ve been fighting my own people. These are the people who are supposed to be with me. These are the people who are supposed to be moving South Carolina forward, and every day I’ve been fighting my own Republicans.”

Higher education leaders have been weighing in on the bond plan, arguing its a good time to invest in infrastructure after years of slim budgets. Four-year colleges would receive about $130 million, including $6 million for The Citadel, mostly to build a new Capers Hall. Seven million would go to the College of Charleston for building repairs and renovations to the Stern Center and the Simons Center for the Arts. The Medical University of South Carolina would receive $20 million toward a new children’s hospital.

Related: ‘Red not as bright’, Haley says (The State)

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