Democrats are upset after Governor Nikki Haley vetoed legislation that would have created an economic development group along the I-95 corridor in South Carolina. Meanwhile, the bill’s sponsor said a breakdown in communication led to the veto.
The “I-95 Corridor Authority” would have been a 19-member board that could apply for grants from federal agencies and coordinate local governments for economic development purchases.
Sen. Brad Hutto (D-Orangeburg) said the intent was to help a part of the state known as the “Corridor of Shame.”
We felt like bringing (the counties) all together to work together would help. We know for sure that there’s some grant money available to us if we apply as a group. We needed that entity… to help us apply for some of this grant money.
In her veto message, Haley said the bill would have unnecessarily grown government, as the state’s Commerce Department and Education Department already apply for grants in that area. She said another agency would be wasteful.
I encourage local governments and local chambers to work together in the spirit of cooperation set forth in this bill, but this cooperation does not require a General Fund appropriation or a new state agency.
Sen. John Matthews (D-Orangeburg), who drafted the legislation this year in response to a blue ribbon commission’s recommendations, said the problems stemmed from a misunderstanding between himself, Haley, and House leaders.
Matthews said Haley had expressed some concerns about one section of the bill when it passed the Senate. The concerns dealt with language that granted the new Authority the ability to receive state funds. Matthews explained it was a wording oversight that was supposed to have been changed when the bill was amended in committee.
My position was, if that is a major concern to (the governor), then let the House take it out and I’ll live with that. But the House did not take it out, so I made an assumption that it was okay.
Matthews said the wording should not be an issue as long as the legislature never sets aside any funding. There is nothing in this year’s budget for the proposed organization.
Haley refused to answer questions about her veto in an SCRN interview dealing with a separate issue.
Hutto argued it was not an expansion of government, saying the Authority would not have any employees. He said the board would only consist of various academics and experts appointed by the Legislature who were already involved with the area.
Both Democrats said they are trying to work out what to do next.
The bill passed by a large enough margins when it first went through that Haley’s veto could be overridden. Matthews said that was a likely option. He said, even with the uncertain language, the Legislature would not fund the entity.