South Carolina  lawmakers last Thursday approved a $7 billion budget for fiscal 2009 that cuts funding for most state agencies but provides small increases for public education, health care, and salary hikes for state employees.

Because revenues are expected to decline by as much as $180 million, lawmakers dipped into reserves and cut nonessential projects. Agency cuts between 2.5% and 5% included trims to the Department of Corrections budget, which was already running in the red this year.

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