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More SC budget cuts tighten belts at Winthrop

The bloodletting continues in South Carolina where, on Thursday, officials ordered an immediate seven-percent cut - or more than $400 million - in state spending to counteract a growing budget deficit. The cuts are likely to mean more trimming of services and layoffs at state agencies. Winthrop University employees learned they will be forced to take nine days without pay over the next six months. University spokeswoman Rebecca Masters says employee salaries are the last place left to trim. "Any other cuts that we would make otherwise would impact directly on students ability to have the classes that they need to make their academic progress," says Masters. Winthrop employees had already been told to expect six days without pay, but Masters says that wouldn't have been enough to meet today's announcement of a mandatory 7-percent cut. Winthrop students will also contribute to the budget shortfall with a $50 tuition increase in the Spring. State economists say South Carolina's unemployment rate could nearly double to 14-percent by July as a result of the budget cuts.