McMaster vetoes $152M of proposed $11B state budget

Published: Jun. 25, 2021 at 2:07 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 25, 2021 at 2:53 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCSC/AP) - Gov. Henry McMaster announced his line item vetoes for South Carolina’s $11 billion state budget Friday.

Speaking from the State House in Columbia, the governor announced he vetoed seven proviso subsections that contain 226 earmarks totaling $152.25 million in appropriations he says lack the necessary transparency and accountability for state funding.

Lawmakers sent the budget to McMaster close to the deadline to get the spending plan in place before the new fiscal year begins on Thursday, July 1.

RELATED STORY | What’s in the nearly $11 billion state budget heading to McMaster’s desk?

“While some important and unprecedented transparency measures were adopted in the budgeting process this year, public transparency must be absolute and uncompromised in order to maintain the public’s trust and confidence in state government,” McMaster said. “Disclosure of the sponsor and recipient is not enough. The bulk of these earmarked appropriations still lack sufficient context – description - explanation of merit - or justification how the recipient intends to spend the funds. Also, no matter how deserving the project, the public must be confident that proper accountability measures are in place to ensure these funds are ultimately spent appropriately by the recipient.”

He said he was forced to veto many of his Executive Budget proposals and projects because the earmarked appropriations were bundled together in the subsections.

McMaster again called on the General Assembly to consider his proposal to create a public, merit-based competitive grants process for these types of appropriations, allowing for public scrutiny and total transparency.

The General Assembly did adopt and fund many of the governor’s most significant recommendations and priorities. Those investments, which total 166 proposals accounting for $1.58 billion, will ensure that South Carolina’s future workforce possess the education and skills necessary to compete for jobs and capital, both nationally and internationally, the governor’s spokesman, Brian Symmes, said.

McMaster’s priorities funded in the final budget include:

  • full-day kindergarten for 4-year-old children
  • teacher and law enforcement officer pay raises
  • funding of school resource officers in all state schools
  • efforts to make college affordable
  • workforce training
  • expanded access to broadband

The budget plan lawmakers delivered also included money to expand the Port of Charleston and to fix buildings at colleges.

It also set aside $600 million into a rainy-day fund in case of future financial hardships.

McMaster had until Friday to issue his vetoes.

Lawmakers are set to return to the State House on Tuesday to decide whether to override them.

Copyright 2021 WCSC. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved.

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