The Associated Press May 12, 2011, 10:02AM ET

SC legislators OK slashing jobless benefits

South Carolina's Senate has approved slashing South Carolina's jobless benefits while giving employers breaks on their unemployment taxes.

The 38-0 vote Wednesday gave the House-passed legislation second reading approval. Final approval may come Thursday.

Legislators are giving employers with records of firing people a $100 million unemployment tax break.

They wanted the break because their bills soared as the state repays $972 million in federal loans that have kept the state's unemployment checks flowing. South Carolina has had some of the nation's highest unemployment for years.

The measure cuts state benefits to a maximum of 20 weeks from 26. But it also means South Carolinians will lose up to 17 weeks of federal extended benefits. Combined benefits would fall to from a maximum of 99 weeks to 77.

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