Gov. Nikki Haley on Friday vetoed 81 line items in the General Assembly fiscal year 2012-2013 budget, including all the funding for two state agencies. Haley also struck a $10 million appropriation to increase the Closing Fund, which pays for infrastructure to attract new industry and encourage job creation in the state.
Gov. Nikki Haley on Friday vetoed 81 line items in the General Assembly fiscal year 2012-2013 budget, including all the funding for two state agencies. (Photo/James T. Hammond)
By James T. Hammond
Published July 9, 2012
Gov. Nikki Haley on Friday vetoed 81 line items in the General Assembly fiscal year 2012-2013 budget, including all the funding for two state agencies: the South Carolina Arts Commission and the Sea Grant Consortium.
Gov. Nikki Haley
Meanwhile, the S.C. Arts Commission will be closed pending Legislative action, according to the organization’s website. The Sea Grant Consortium office will also be closed until the vetoes are resolved. The consortium is a university-based state agency that seeks to enhance the practical use and conservation of South Carolina’s coastal and marine resources.
In order to overturn Haley’s vetoes, the House and the Senate must each vote by a two-thirds majority to keep the General Assembly’s version of the vetoed line item.
House Speaker Bobby Harrell responded late Friday with a sense of urgency, saying the House would reconvene at 1 p.m. July 17 to consider whether to override the governor’s actions.
Rep. Joan Brady, a Richland County Republican, may have foreshadowed the attitude of returning lawmakers on Sunday when she tweeted: "We're going back to the Statehouse on July 17th to take up the governor's vetoes. Getting ready, by exercising my 'override' finger!"
Among her vetoes, Gov. Nikki Haley struck:
Harrell said in a statement issued by his office that while it was the General Assembly’s original intent to come back in September to address budget vetoes, “the ambiguity created by some of the governor’s vetoes, like whether teacher salaries will be funded and whether or not some agencies will still have the authority to continue operating, needs to be addressed sooner rather than later.
“School starts back in a couple of months, and the governor does not want teachers to get the pay raises that they are supposed to get,” Harrell said. “The decision on whether to let the governor stop their pay raises needs to be made before the school year starts. Teachers need to be able to plan for their families.”
Harrell took the opportunity to criticize Haley for an ongoing dispute over her stance on Georgia’s plans to expand port operations in the Savannah River.
“The shining economic development accomplishments of this balanced budget are the 40% cut to small-business income taxes and the harbor deepening fund,” Harrell said. “With the governor’s DHEC board giving Georgia its approval to dump toxic dredging sludge on the proposed Jasper port site for the next 50 years, our state needed these measures to make our port and our state’s small businesses as competitive as possible.
“The way we addressed funding core government services, tax relief for small businesses, fully funded a harbor deepening project that will keep South Carolina’s port competitive, included pay raises for teachers, law enforcement officers and other state employees, this is a balanced budget plan that taxpayers can proudly stand behind,” Harrell said.
Haley defended her vetoes as eliminating “numerous earmarks and pork projects” that were scattered across the budget; as programs that don’t work, citing a Writing Improvement Program, the S.C. Geographic Alliance and School Improvement Council; programs that show “excessive growth,” citing the South Carolina Governor’s School for Science and Math; and “irresponsible practices,” citing $10.1 million in non-recurring money the lawmakers intended for teacher salary supplements.
In her Friday afternoon news conference on the vetoes, Haley proposed that the governor be allowed even greater powers to shape the General Assembly’s budget through a so-called “blue-line” veto. Currently, the governor can only accept or strike line items as they are written in the budget. The blue-line measure would allow her to keep a line item, but reduce the amount of money in the line item.
Haley argued that the provision would not amount to the General Assembly ceding powers to the executive branch, because the legislative branch would retain the power to override the vetoes.