Budget cuts, redistricting top 2011's state agenda

Budget cuts will be the center of attention at the Statehouse in 2011.

Budget cuts will be the center of attention at the Statehouse in 2011. Balancing the state budget will be job number one for the legislature this year.

When the gavel drops on the 2011 session of the South Carolina General Assembly, lawmakers will have to find ways to deal with an $800 to $900 million budget shortfall.

St ate Sen. Luke Rankin say there's no question health care and education will get cut . B ut in the end, the state will find a way to balance its budget.

"You're not going to have a California, Pennsylvania, New Jersey. We're going to make difficult cuts but we're not going to have deficits at the end of our year," Rankin said.

St ate Rep. Thad Viers says all of state government may have to sacrifice.

"We may need to take a look at every state employee in the state system and go, you know what, we have to lead by example. Everyone's going to take anywhere from a one to ten percent pay cut," Viers said.

Another frontline issue for the legislature will be redrawing the lines for house districts.

Rankin says Horry County has grown and will likely gain a seat, but the Upstate has gained population as well.

"There'll be some wrangling over who in the growth areas warrants getting these extra seats , " Rankin told NewsChannel 15.

Viers says government restructuring will come up again and it's likely the house will pass an immigration bill similar to Arizona's.

He says dealing with all that while cutting the budget means lawmakers will have to make tough choices. "We're all in this together and we'll make it through but we're all going to have to cut back."

Viers says some people who counted on government services won't get the same level of service they've had before, but lawmakers have no choice. They must balance the budget.

The legislature will be back in session next Tuesday, January 11th.