Governor Henry McMaster said he vetoed some items of the South Carolina 2018-2019 Fiscal Year budget because they lacked transparency.
“This budget has one major flaw in it and that is it takes an unprecedented step away from public transparency and accountability,” he said.
Specifically, he cited a large section of higher education budget for colleges and universities that took $3.4 billion off the books. Legislative budget leaders have argued the “Other Funds” money is tuition and fees collected by universities that the House and Senate have no control over.
“We just can’t do that,” McMaster insisted. “That’s why I vetoed that… In past years, this spending authorization in the budget has allowed the public to see just how much each institution receives and spends from funds generated by such things as tuition… So they took that off the budget and that is counter to accountability. It’s counter to openness and transparency and I’m not going to allow it.”
McMaster said he also vetoed several line items that appeared to be earmarks or pork. Click here to read the Governor’s vetoes for the Fiscal Year 2018-19 General Appropriations Act.
“Many of these vetoes represent a collection of legislative earmarks appropriations that are completely void of necessary transparency,” he said. “They lack disclosure of explanation, justification, description, purpose, location or amount. How they further the agencies’ missions is entirely unaddressed and in most cases, my cabinet agencies’ directors did not request the funds and don’t know who put them in the budget and don’t know what the money is supposed to be used for.”
House Majority Leader Gary Simrill, R-Rock Hill, and Senate President pro tempore Hugh Leatherman have said they expect to return to Columbia and take up the vetoes in September. However, no date is set at this time.
The Governor also said he vetoed some items that were inserted into the budget as provisos which he argued should have gone through the regular budget process. He said some of the items he vetoed “specify instances in which the legislature has acted unwisely and hastily with taxpayer dollars by directing public money to private interests or earmarking funds for parochial projects which serve little or no public interest and should be considered locally.”
Among these items: $100,00 for the Department of Education to spend on the Quaver Music program; $250,000 for Department of Archives and History to pay for the Charleston Library Society’s Beaux Arts Building; and $500,000 for the Arts Commission to help the SC Children’s Theatre.
“That’s no way to run a government,” he said.