South Carolina legislators have given tentative approval to a $5.9 billion spending plan.
By a 24-16 vote, the Senate on Wednesday gave the proposed budget initial approval. Final approval for the spending plan that takes effect July 1 could come later this week.
The vote came as debate on the spending plan entered a third week. Debate started three weeks ago with legislators criticizing spending on Medicaid health care spending for the poor, elderly and disabled and was coming to a close after Republican Sen. Kevin Bryant of Anderson called it a Mercedes Benz of health insurance.
Medicaid enrollment has grown as the recession put people out of work and made their children eligible for assistance. Bryant says it's now keeping them from seeking jobs that offer health insurance.