The South Carolina General Assembly sent a strong message to Governor Nikki Haley, overruling her veto of ETV funding by overwhelming margins Wednesday. In all, the legislature voted down 27 budget vetoes by the governor.
Legislators, particularly House Majority Leader Kenny Bingham (R-West Columbia), were furious about the veto, accusing the governor of going back on her word. The issue stems from a legislative compromise that changes how ETV is funded. Instead of a line item, members voted to fund the network through the services it provides.
Bingham angrily took the floor for nearly 15 minutes to slam the governor, saying she and her staff told him she supported the deal. Listen to speech here (14:10)
I had assurances from the Governor’s Office, because the Governor’s Office had worked with us on this. The Governor’s Office had asked us to do this very thing that now they turn around and veto. Not only that, they did not have the common courtesy and the dignity to call and tell me what they’re doing!
Legislators gave Bingham a standing ovation after his remarks. They then voted overwhelming to override her three vetoes dealing with the agency. Even members who have said they oppose ETV funding voted against Haley Wednesday. Only four legislators voted to sustain any of the ETV vetoes in either body.
A South Carolina Radio Network reporter noticed the veto Tuesday and approached members of the governor’s staff. They would not say whether or not they had been involved in negotiations with the legislature. The Governor’s Office only released a brief statement after the vote, saying:
It’s a shame that the General Assembly chose to spend more tax dollars than we can reasonably afford, and chose to spend it in some areas like public TV… that are beyond the core functions of government.
Bingham said ETV performs functions outside of public TV that are vital to the state, such as maintaining an emergency broadcast network, video from the Statehouse, and the state’s Amber Alert system. He said these could not be privatized without funding assistance from the state government.
He said he was done cooperating with the governor’s staff.
I don’t have to work with someone who does not have the authority to commit for their office. I am tired of doing it. I am too old and I’ve been here too long to take any more of what’s going on. Now, I may not ever be elected back to this chamber again and I really do not care as long as this is the way it’s going to operate.