Democrats blast Haley on arts, teacher pay vetoes
COLUMBIA, S.C.-- Several Democratic lawmakers say South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley was reckless with budget vetoes last week that effectively shut down the South Carolina Arts Commission and threw $10 million of pay raises for teachers to local school boards to pay for.
The legislators held a news conference Monday in the sweltering parking lot of the Arts Commission's building to emphasize that the agency was left in limbo when Haley rejected all of its $2.4 million funding for this budget year.
Haley says people, not the government, should choose what art gets money. She also says teacher raises shouldn't have come from one-time money.
Rep. James Smith says the vetoes show Haley makes decisions rashly and runs the state on her own whims, rather than what is best for its citizens.
The cut has hit Arts Commission Executive Director Ken May hard.
"We all have at least one more paycheck coming. Then the next one is the one that will get docked. We're all just cutting back. It is very hard to say what we will miss in the future, if we cut this. But I can look backward and tell you what we would have missed, and it is significant."
The vetoes are not final yet. Legislators will meet next week to discuss them. A two-thirds vote will be needed to override any of the governor's vetoes; and employees hope that will keep the Arts Commission alive.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.