Lawmakers side with McMaster on common-sense budget vetoes
South Carolina lawmakers returned to Columbia this week to take up the governor’s vetoes on the FY22-23 state budget, which went into effect July 1.
The governor’s veto list – released on June 22 and containing 44 substantive deletions – mostly cracked down on spending for legislative programs and projects that lacked sufficient details, known as earmarks, along with a few non-spending related provisos. The message applauded the recently passed income tax cut and investments made in transportation infrastructure, but also called for more transparency in the budget process, a sentiment SCPC echoes.
In total, lawmakers sided with the governor on 17 vetoes, removing them from the budget. While we will always advocate for more fiscal restraint, lawmakers made the right call in at least striking some of the more inappropriate budget items.
Sections removed from the budget include:
Justice Forty Oversight Committee – This would have established a committee to study environmental justice in South Carolina, comprised of a member of the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Committee and a handful of state officials. As we have routinely noted, provisos that do not reasonably and inherently relate to spending violate the state Constitution’s “one subject rule”.
Quantum supercomputer – This would have appropriated $25 million to a not-yet-created nonprofit to purchase a “quantum supercomputer”. If there is truly a need for such a device, the governor is correct in his assertion that there must first be proper debate, research and transparency involved.
Earmark to education nonprofit – While this $600,000 appropriation would have been received by an organization with commendable goals such as providing services to at-risk children, it is headed by an immediate family member of a sitting lawmaker.
Earmark for a tourism study – This would have appropriated $1,000,000 to a division within the College of Charleston to study local tourism. As the governor notes in his veto message, we have a state agency capable of handling that job – The Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism. A quick search of the agency’s website shows it regularly studies the impact of tourism.
Lawmakers also sustained vetoes for:
- Berkeley County Library – Goose Creek: $300,000
- Women in Unity: $300,000
- West Orangeburg Community Center: $2,000,000
- Saluda County: $364,000
- Community Vision of Hope: $100,000
Under current sine die (end-of-session) rules, the Legislature could reconvene later this year to take up abortion legislation following the overturning of Roe v. Wade, along with other normally permitted items like appointments and spending bills.