COLUMBIA, S.C. – Governor Henry McMaster today announced his line item vetoes of the FY 2021-2022 state budget at a statehouse news conference. Totaling $152.5 million, the governor’s 15 vetoes, include 7 proviso subsections that contain 226 earmarked appropriations that lack the necessary transparency and accountability for state funding.
For a copy of the governor’s veto message, click here.
“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,” Governor 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.”
The governor continued: “For these reasons, I must veto 226 of these earmarked appropriations totaling $152.5 million dollars. Because these earmarked appropriations are bundled together in seven different proviso subsections - it will require that I veto many of my Executive Budget proposals and projects.”
The governor once 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 priorities funded in the final budget include the following, notable proposals (all statements are attributable to Governor Henry McMaster):
Four-year-old, Full Day Kindergarten
“Last year, I proposed that we make a transformative investment in early childhood education - by expanding full-day kindergarten for every at-risk four-year-old child in the State. This expansion will allow parents to choose the public or private provider that meets their child’s educational needs. South Carolina’s at-risk children will - with each passing year - increasingly arrive at school prepared and eager to learn and on track to make continued, life-long learning progress.
Teacher Pay Raise
“This state budget maintains our continued commitment to attract and retain our talented teachers through a $1,000 across-the-board pay raise. While this is not the $3,000 across-the-board raise that I proposed before the pandemic hit - I am confident that the General Assembly shares my commitment to making future investments that will further improve South Carolina’s national ranking for average teacher pay.
School Resource Officers
“It is critical that parents in South Carolina have confidence that their children are safe and secure while at school. In 2018 - I promised the parents of this state that we would place a certified law enforcement school resource officer in every school, in every county, all day, every day. This state budget makes good on that promise.”
Making College Affordable
“Future prosperity requires that our colleges, universities, and technical colleges are accessible and affordable for the sons and daughters of South Carolina. Three years ago, I proposed a tuition freeze at every public college, university, and technical college. The General Assembly agreed – so for the third year in a row – we have frozen tuition at our state’s public colleges, universities, and technical colleges.
“This state budget includes my proposal to boost financial aid for students from lower income households. By increasing this aid to $80 million dollars - every South Carolinian who qualifies for federal needs-based financial aid - or federal Pell Grants – will have the necessary financial assistance to attend any in-state public, private, independent college, university, or historically black college or university.”
“Every one of my Executive Budgets has proposed that we boost funding for workforce training. This state budget provides an additional $40 million for high-demand jobs skills training. This includes programs like ReadySC, which provides direct training for manufacturers who locate their business in our state – and includes additional workforce scholarships and grants so more South Carolinians can receive skills-based certificates and accreditation at our state’s technical colleges.”
Law Enforcement Pay Raises
“To keep South Carolinians safe, we must maintain a robust law enforcement presence - and properly ‘fund the police.’ Our state law enforcement agencies continue to lose valuable and experienced personnel because they are unable to remain competitive with pay and benefits.
“This budget dedicates over $21.1 million in new dollars to law enforcement, public safety and first response agencies for recruitment and retention. This includes the pay raises that I proposed in my Executive Budget for troopers, state law enforcement division agents, wildlife officers, probation agents and corrections officers.”
Expanding Access to Broadband
“Broadband is no longer a luxury - it is a necessity, essential to ensuring a level playing field especially for those in rural areas. Emergency response, health care access, education - all increasingly rely on high-speed Internet access. This budget provides an additional $10 million in state funds to continue the expansion of broadband into all parts of our state through public and private partnerships.”