We made progress during this year’s budget process in Columbia – passing tax cuts for small business income, reforming the long-term sustainability of our pension system and continuing to expand school choice in our state. In doing so, we sent a strong message to the country that South Carolina is open for business.
But we still have work to do. It’s time for the General Assembly to live within its means when it comes to the state budget.
Budgets are ultimately statements of our priorities. They demonstrate our commitment to being responsible stewards of your tax dollars. That’s why last week, after the General Assembly sent us this year’s budget, we issued 81 vetoes – including millions of dollars in pork projects and earmarks.
Some quick facts about our vetoes:
- We approved $38 million in pay raises to teachers. They deserve it. We also approved 5% pay raises for law enforcement and firefighters. But the Legislature gave an additional $10 million in one-time money to teachers, knowing it’s unsustainable and knowing it will leave a hole in the budget next year. That’s why we vetoed it. Legislators didn’t use one-time money on their own salaries, so why do that to teachers? It’s irresponsible budgeting.
- We vetoed the Arts Commission, not the arts or arts education. Did you know that up to 30% of Arts Commission funding goes to administrative services? Taxpayers should decide which arts programs to fund, not legislators. We love the arts, but in a year where we are forced to make tough budget decisions, we don’t believe the Arts Commission serves a core function of government.
- The six million-dollar Sea Grant Consortium is one of the agencies the media is complaining that we eliminated. Its primary function is to help colleges and universities pursue federal grants. Do we really need taxpayers paying for an entire agency that does university grant research work for schools that already get state dollars?
- We vetoed $10 million in mortgage settlement money for the Commerce Department’s closing fund. Our top priority continues to be jobs for South Carolina, which is why we’ve worked hard for tax cuts, tort reform, and other policies that take care of the businesses we already have and make our state more attractive to new businesses. But this would have raided money South Carolina received in the national mortgage settlement that was never intended to be used for the closing fund. Even without it, the closing fund got $15 million, which is $5 million more than last year – and plenty for Commerce to do what it needs to. We will continue to fight to bring jobs and businesses to South Carolina, but we just don’t need to do it this way.
- We vetoed pork projects including: Darlington County Watershed Project ($600,000), North Myrtle Beach Historical Museum ($300,000), Hilton Head Mitchelville Land Purchase ($200,000), Irmo Veterans Park ($30,000), Patriot Park Environmental Pavilion ($100,000), SMART Ride – Camden ($60,000), Andrews Public Safety Building ($100,000), Charleston African American Historic Sites ($200,000), Lake Paul Wallace Authority ($150,000) and Marion County Habitat for Humanity
- We vetoed earmarks including: Southeastern Wildlife Exposition ($200,000), Center for Fathers and Families ($200,000), Women in Unity ($100,000), Tri-City Outreach ($40,000), Callen-Lacey Center for Children ($35,000), United Center for Community Care ($75,000), Community Outreach Center Incorporated After School Program ($25,000), Charles Lea Center ($250,000), ADAP Prevention ($200,000), S.C. Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault ($453,680), Kidney Disease Early Evacuation and Risk Assessment Education ($100,000), S.C. Bleeding Disorders Premium Assistance Program ($100,000), S.C. Office of Rural Health Benefit Bank ($500,000), James R. Clark Memorial Foundation ($100,000).
If you agree with us that it’s time for state government to live within its means, please call your House member or Senator and urge them to sustain our vetoes. You can find your legislators’ contact information here.
My very best,