Rex: Hike cigarette taxes to keep teachers

COLUMBIA, SC (AP) - South Carolina's schools chief told legislators that hundreds more teachers will lose their jobs and class sizes will rise under continued budget cuts.

Superintendent Jim Rex told a Senate Finance panel on Wednesday there are no good options left for reducing education costs. He likened the proposals to a person choosing whether to amputate his arms or legs.

Rex urged senators to find ways to raise money, rather than just cut services. He advocated raising the state's 7-cents-per pack cigarette tax to the national average to avoid requiring teachers take off five days without pay.

A House proposal on the budget that starts July 1 cuts funding for schools an additional 6 percent. That returns state spending on teacher salaries to 1995 levels.

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