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Gov. Henry McMaster Requires Transparency for State Budget Earmarks

July 2, 2021

COLUMBIA, S.C. – Governor Henry McMaster took steps today to bolster transparency around earmarked appropriations in the state budget.

Specifically, the governor sent a letter to the leaders of 24 state agencies which received funds allocated for earmarked projects and required that they provide the Executive Budget Office (EBO) with a detailed explanation of how those funds will be spent by the recipients, and what accountability measures are in place to ensure proper spending. That information will be made publicly available on the governor’s website, when available.

To view a copy of the governor’s letter, click here.

“While the General Assembly took the unprecedented step of requiring the public disclosure of the sponsors and recipients these earmarked appropriations, it was not enough,” Governor McMaster writes in the letter to agency heads. “I vetoed them because they lacked sufficient description or explanation as to how the recipient intends to spend the funds, and because they lacked proper accountability measures to ensure the funds are ultimately spent appropriately by the recipient.  On June 29, 2021, the General Assembly overrode most of those vetoes.”

“Public transparency must be absolute and uncompromised in order to maintain the public’s trust and confidence in their government,” the governor continues. “After all, it is the public’s money which we are spending.”

Last week, Governor McMaster vetoed 226 earmarks in the state budget – totaling $152 million – citing a lack of sufficient description of how the funds will be spent and the lack of proper accountability measures in place to ensure the funds are spent appropriately by the recipient.

To view a copy of the governor’s full veto message, click here.

Ultimately, the General Assembly overrode the governor’s vetoes of these earmarked appropriations on June 20, 2021.

The governor’s directive relies on authority provided to him by section 1-3-10 of the South Carolina Code of Laws and article IV, section 17 of the South Carolina Constitution to require disclosure of this information.

The letter was sent to the leaders of 24 state agencies which received funds allocated for earmarked projects and are as follows:

  • Arts Commission
  • Department of Administration
  • Department of Agriculture
  • Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services
  • Department of Archives and History
  • Department of Commerce
  • Department of Disabilities and Special Needs
  • Department of Education
  • Department of Health and Environmental Control
  • Department of Health and Human Services
  • Department of Juvenile Justice
  • Department of Mental Health
  • Department of Natural Resources
  • Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism
  • Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services
  • Department of Public Safety
  • Department of Social Services
  • Department of Transportation
  • Department of Veterans’ Affairs
  • Department on Aging
  • Office of Adjutant General
  • Patriots Point Development Authority
  • Public Service Commission
  • State Treasurer