SC Senate approves bond bill for port deepening

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — The Senate has approved a bill allowing South Carolina to borrow $120 million to deepen the Charleston harbor if necessary.

The chamber voted 40-3 on Thursday to send the bill to the House after a Republican senator removed his objection.

The bill authorizes the state to issue bonds if necessary to cover the federal share of the expected $300 million dredging project.

Ports Authority chairman Bill Stern says the bill removes all uncertainty in completing a project critical for the state’s economy.

Sen. Kevin Bryant says he agreed to allow the vote after Senate leaders assured him the 2012-13 budget would put $20 million toward the state’s long-term debt for retirees’ health insurance. He wanted $120 million to be paid down but recognized there were enough votes to override him.

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