I just left the Ways and Means Committee meeting and wanted to get this out to you. The committee unanimously passed the changes that will be presented to the full House next Monday when we return at noon for an “emergency session” to deal with almost a HALF A BILLION DOLLARS in budget cuts due to, among a few things, the struggling economy.

Some quick highlights as I’m hoping to get back to my paying job this afternoon.

SC is not alone in this type of revenue shortfall. California ($22 Billion), Florida ($5 Billion) and Georgia ($1.8 Billion) are just a few of the states facing shortfalls.

If there were any “winners” today they were Education (particularily school buses who picked up almost $20M for fuel), Medicaid, and the Department of Corrections.

Losers? Several. Agency cuts in the plan range from 3.6% (Dept of Ed) to 15.8% (Dept of Natural Resources).

The “say what?” moment occurred when a member of the committee mentioned the idea of raising taxes or revisiting the tax breaks we passed in recent years.

One thing I’m pleased to report is that FINALLY the Competitive Grant Program will be “zeroed out” with those millions going to the Department of Corrections.

In addition to the full Ways and Means Committee (which even had retiring Representatives Bill Cotty and Adam Taylor report for duty today), the following House members were in attendance: Haley, Huggins, Toole, Frye, Glenn Hamiton (also retiring), Clemmons, Thompson and Danning.

Stay tuned….the General Assembly reports back Monday at noon.