The budget process in the Statehouse Tuesday morning was less about Republicans against Democrats and more about Republicans against Republicans as the House Republican leadership spent much of the morning halting budget-cutting amendments from their own party.
Rep. Garry Smith (R-Greenville) started off the debate with an amendment that would have ended administrative funding for the Arts Commission and transferred it to the Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism to use for advertising and promotions.
Democrats complained doing so would require firing the Arts Commission staff. Republican leaders eventually killed the amendment.
Then, a group of Republicans allied with Gov. Nikki Haley tried to remove state funding for the GOP presidential primary, arguing the party could pay for the primary itself. Rep. Nathan Ballentine (R-Richland) said the Elections Commission told him they were worried about a funding shortfall.
We are making sacrifices, state employees are making sacrifices, everybody’s making sacrifices. I stand here on behalf of the Republican Party to say here is where we could make our sacrifice.
South Carolina has receives national exposure for its “First in the South” primary. Several Republicans were concerned over a possible national embarrassment if things were to go wrong in the primary.
Rep. Tracy Edge (R-Horry) said the State Elections Commission has done a good job since it began funding presidential primaries nine years ago.
This is an opportunity to do it right. Because, if we don’t, I can guarantee you CNN, MSNBC, Fox, and all the other networks that are out there will be the first ones to tell the people of the United States (that) South Carolina cannot even run an election.
They were joined by many Democrats, who privately said were afraid to start a precedent for their own primary in four years. The effort failed by a 46-69 vote.
In a separate amendment, Rep. Murrell Smith (R-Sumter) proposed temporarily using a different ratio for how the Legislature funds local governments. Legislators use Census data to dole out the money, but Smith asked for a one-year mix of the 2010 and 2000 Census information as a way to slow the hit rural areas would get under next year’s formula.
However, legislators from growing urban areas rejected the amendment, arguing it unfairly punished their districts. The amendment failed.