South Carolina lawmakers this week reduced the cutbacks that city and county governments face in the state’s fiscal 2010 budget.

On Monday, the House decided to cut the local government fund by 18%, or $50 million. In February, lawmakers proposed cutting $122 million from the fund, which disburses tax revenue to counties and cities.

The revised cut reduces the local government fund to its 2005-06 level, said Reba Campbell, deputy executive director for the South Carolina Municipal Association.

“It’s probably the best we’re going to see at this point,” Campbell said. “This put the cut to the local government fund in line with what other agencies are seeing,” she said.

County and city government officials protested the $122 million cut saying they would be forced to layoff employees and cancel development projects just as government spending is needed amid the recession.

The House continued to debate the budget and had not passed a final version at press time. The Senate is expected to begin debating the budget next week.

Separately, the House voted on Monday to use $350 million of federal stimulus aid to balance the fiscal 2010 budget. South Carolina faces an estimated $535 million budget deficit. The state’s fiscal year begins July 1.

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