Stimulus, tax pledges put GOP legislators in bind

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - South Carolina's budget debate this week can put legislators in a bind as they use federal bailout money to preserve health services to the state disabled, poor and elderly and consider raising the state's cigarette tax.

The $5 billion budget up for debate Monday in the House is $2 billion less than it was a couple of years ago before the Great Recession.

And it will be a bitter dose for Republicans already facing resentment from Tea Party activists who say the state needs to forego using the federal cash and under pressure to keep "no new tax" pledges.

Winthrop University political scientist Scott Huffmon says Republicans may be voting on issues that will bring out challengers in the June 8 primary.

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