Lawmakers override Haley’s veto of Lowcountry Graduate Center funding

By Ashley Barker
Published June 19, 2014

State lawmakers in the House of Representatives and Senate voted to override many of Gov. Nikki Haley’s budget vetoes, including a designation for the Lowcountry Graduate Center.

Yancey McGillHugh Leatherman

Sen. Yancey McGill (left) is the new S.C. lieutenant governor, and Sen. Hugh Leatherman is Senate president pro tempore.

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Representatives voted 82-35 and senators voted 29-14 to override Haley’s veto of $300,000 for the center, a consortium of local institutions that was already set to receive about $785,000 in state funding.

In a letter to the S.C. House of Representatives, Haley said that she supports expanded access to higher education but that the center already was slated for the larger appropriation.

“The Lowcountry Graduate Center is a shared setting in which a consortium of colleges and universities offer a limited number of their programs,” Haley wrote. “If operating this site is such a money-loser for these institutions, then they should either recapture this from the students enrolled in courses at this site or else consider another method of offering this instruction.”

The center’s director and associate dean, Nancy Muller, said the $300,000 was requested to help pay for marketing and new program development, as well as a possible increase in rent payments for the center’s new facility being built in North Charleston.

“I’m delighted to see that a majority of our S.C. lawmakers acknowledged the value of the Lowcountry Graduate Center and see both past and current evidence of how well it leverages the state’s institutional resources in higher education for the benefit not just of our region but all the taxpayers in the state,” Muller said after the veto was overridden.

Without the $300,000, the Lowcountry Graduate Center would have used leftover funds from previous appropriations to cover the excess costs.

Senators also elected new leadership Wednesday prior to voting on the vetoes. Sen. Yancey McGill, D-Kingstree, was chosen as president pro tempore to replace Sen. John Courson, who recently resigned his position.

Moments later, Lt. Gov. Glenn McConnell resigned so that he could focus on his impending duties as president of the College of Charleston. By state law, McGill then moved into the lieutenant governor spot, leaving another vacancy at the president pro tempore level.

The senators elected Hugh Leatherman, R-Florence, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, as president pro tempore.

Reach staff writer Ashley Barker at 843-849-3144 or @AshleyNBarker on Twitter.

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