Gov. Haley vetoes $18.5M from state budget

By: The Associated Press
By: The Associated Press
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley. (File / WRDW-TV)

Thursday, June 12, 2014

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Gov. Nikki Haley vetoed $18.5 million from the Legislature's $7 billion spending plan for the coming year, including money for caregivers to the elderly.

Haley announced her 76 vetoes Thursday. That compares with 81 vetoes tallying $94 million last year, 81 vetoes worth $67.5 million in 2012, and 34 totaling $213 million in 2011 — her first year in office. Haley said the amount is far less this year because she and the Republican-led Legislature worked much better together.

"You will not see nearly as much vetoed in this because we didn't have near as many problems with each other," said Haley, who's seeking re-election.

Vetoes include $2 million from the lieutenant governor's Office on Aging for services that help seniors live independently in their own homes rather than in more expensive nursing homes, which taxpayers fund through Medicaid. Haley said there's legitimacy in the program, but the agency is growing too fast. Even after her veto, she said, the office gets nearly $13 million next year from the state, compared with $4.5 million four years ago.

"I don't disagree with the fact that it may save people money longer," but that should be analyzed, she said.

Lt. Gov. Glenn McConnell, who stepped into the role in 2012, has warned lawmakers that a failure to prepare for South Carolina's oncoming "gray tsunami" will cause a budget crisis and human tragedies. The state's senior population is expected to double over the next 15 years, to nearly 2 million people age 60 and older.

McConnell is expected to resign next week to take his new job as president of the College of Charleston. Voters will choose his replacement in November. Haley applauded his advocacy but doesn't "want to add on all this money when he's not going to be here." Instead, she said, she wants to work with the next lieutenant governor in developing his budget plan.

The veto for caregivers tied for the largest among the 76. Haley also vetoed $2 million that creates a grant program for youth sports. Haley said state government has no business using taxpayers' money to fund soccer teams.

She also chastised legislators for giving themselves a pay raise.

The budget provides them an additional $1,000 monthly for in-district expenses, doubling the stipend that hasn't changed since 1995 to $24,000 yearly. The provision also increases their pensions.

"I don't fault legislators for wanting a pay raise," said Haley, a three-term House member before becoming governor. "This is not the way to do it. This is not the time to do it."

She suggested legislators ask voters whether they should get a raise.

For the first time, Haley struck nothing from an accompanying budget bill that designates money unused from this year's rainy day fund. Haley signed off Wednesday on the $115 million in capital reserve spending.

Also unlike previous years, Haley did not wipe out funding for the Arts Commission. In 2012, her vetoes temporarily shut down it and another small agency until the Legislature returned to Columbia and overrode them. The Legislature completed its work so late then that the vetoes came out after the fiscal year started.

Haley said she didn't eliminate the commission this year because it made changes that saved money, though that doesn't correspond to her previous objections. In the past, she has said the arts are not a government function and should be fully funded by private donations.

She also did not strike a legislative compromise to censure two public colleges, despite disagreeing with it. The budget requires the College of Charleston to spend at least $52,000 and the University of South Carolina Upstate to spend $17,000 on teaching the U.S. Constitution, the Declaration of Independence and the Federalist Papers. Those amounts correspond with what the colleges say they spent on books dealing with homosexuality that were assigned for freshmen reading programs. The House wanted to cut that money from the colleges' budgets.

"I don't believe legislators should micromanage our boards. They elect board members, so if they want to beat up on them, go for it... but to go in there and micromanage books being read, I think that's out of our purview," Haley said. However, since legislators spent so much energy on the compromise, "we just didn't want to interject ourselves in that."

Nineteen have no price tag.

Here's a list from Gov. Nikki Haley's office:

—$122,500 for four additional archivists at the Department of Archives and History

—$37,945 for a program coordinator at the Department of Natural Resources

—$405,000 for six new positions with Clemson University's extension services (four separate vetoes)

—$160,000 for four program coordinators at the Human Affairs Commission

—$1 million to the Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism to promote "undiscovered South Carolina" (two separate vetoes)

—$1.1 million for a new grant program for local law enforcement (two separate vetoes)

—$100,000 to the Palmetto Project, which was supposed to help children eligible for Medicaid enroll through school.

—$150,000 of lottery money to Southern Methodist College

—$150,000 of lottery money to Clinton Junior College

—$150,000 of lottery money to Coker College

—$300,000 to the Lowcountry Graduate Center

—$400,000 to the Capital IT-oLogy Coursepower Project, a six-course college minor in applied computing

—$50,000 to the South Carolina Artisans Center in Walterboro

—$200,000 to the State Museum for acquisitions

—$150,000 to the Greenville Children's Museum

—$250,000 to the Woodrow Wilson Family Home in Columbia

—$75,000 to the town of Eastover for a historic site

—$200,000 for the Walhalla Civic Auditorium

—$100,000 to the South Carolina Hall of Fame in Myrtle Beach

—$250,000 to Sea Haven in Myrtle Beach, which provides temporary shelter for homeless youth ages 13-21

—$100,000 to the Charles Lea Center in Spartanburg, which provides residential and day services for people with disabilities

—$400,000 to the Centers for Fathers and Families which offers programs for unwed dads

—$500,000 for the Horry-Georgetown Evacuation Route. $4 million is provided for its plan and design elsewhere in the budget

—$220,000 to the University of South Carolina to pay for artifacts now on loan that were excavated from Parris Island

—$570,000 to the Department of Natural Resources for a drill rig and water truck

—$1.1 million to the Department of Natural Resources for the Waddell Mariculture Center in Beaufort County

—$1 million to the Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism to fund other parks

—$2 million to the Office on Aging for caregivers who help seniors live in their homes independently

—$350,000 for the Department of Commerce to distribute to local community development groups

—$100,000 to the Sea Grants Consortium for stormwater research

—$250,000 for Lake Ashwood in Bishopville

—$150,000 for Lake Paul Wallace in Bennettsville

—$150,000 for the Palmetto Trail

—$100,000 for the Francis Marion Trail

—$2 million for a grant program for youth sports groups

—$400,000 for international marketing of South Carolina's coastal tourist destinations

—$300,000 for football exhibition games

—$100,000 to the South Carolina Equine Park in Camden

—$200,000 for the Southeastern Wildlife Expo in Charleston

—$50,000 for a fire department near Jones Gap State Park in Greenville County

—$75,000 to host the Carolina Panthers' training camp in Spartanburg

—$150,000 to market the Black Expo in Columbia, Charleston and Upstate

—$200,000 to help build a entertainment and sports complex in Spartanburg County

—$750,000 to New Carolina, a nonprofit that promotes business clusters in South Carolina

—$60,000 to the Columbia Minority Business Development Agency, which Haley says is run by a for-profit company

—$600,000 for a railroad spur at the intersection of Interstates 95 and 26, which Haley says is already built

—$100,000 for a facility in Marion County to provide adult education and technical training

—$750,000 for an industrial park near Darlington

—$300,000 for utility lines to be attached to the new Fripp Island bridge in Beaufort County

—$150,000 for roof repair at the Cherry Grove Future Farmers of America Camp in North Myrtle Beach

—$100,000 for a public swimming pool in Walhalla that meets disability laws

—$200,000 for a playground in Myrtle Beach for people with disabilities

—$150,000 for asbestos abatement at the city of Laurens

—allowing legislators a $12,000 yearly increase in their stipend for in-district expenses. The veto cuts no money, because the money is not on a separate line. The budget requires the raises to be paid from within the House's and Senate's budgets.

(Copyright 2014. The Associated Press.)

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