House acts on Haley vetoes

The South Carolina House began its work voting on Governor Nikki Haley's budget vetoes Tuesday afternoon.

COLUMBIA (WACH/AP) -- The South Carolina House has overridden 51 of Gov. Nikki Haley's 81 budget vetoes.

In their first vote House members voted overwhelmingly to override vetoes that wiped out the state Arts Commission.

The 110-5 vote on Tuesday would restore $1.9 million for the agency's operations. It was the first vote of the day. A later vote of 89-25 restores $500,000 for the commission's grant money.

House Representative Ralph Norman was 1 of 5 in support of Haley's veto.

"The arts to me is a viable function," said Norman. "I just don't think it's a core function of government."

Others who did not support the veto believe that the arts play a pivital role in South Carolina.

"It's not only an investment in our future but it's an investment in our culture here in South Carolina." Said Bakari Sellers, House Representative.

The other agency eliminated by Haley's vetoes was the Sea Grant Consortium. The House voted 102-10 to restore that agency's $428,000.

Hundreds of art supporters turned out at the Statehouse on Monday evening to protest. Organizer Natalie Brown says she wanted the rally to focus on the arts, not speakers. There were groups of drummers, while others played guitar and violin on the Statehouse steps. Painters also set up on Statehouse grounds.

The South Carolina House has also voted to restore $10 million for teacher pay raises and to expand a public high school for academically talented students.

The House voted 113-1 on Tuesday to override a veto that removed the money to help districts pay for mandated 2 percent salary increases. House Majority Leader Kenny Bingham says local property taxes might go up if the state doesn't provide money for the raises legislators are requiring.

The chamber then voted 109-3 to override a $1.2 million veto to expand the Governor's School for Science and Mathematics. The money would hire more teachers so the school can enroll 300 students, bringing them to capacity.

The House voted unanimously to override Gov. Nikki Haley's veto of $454,000 to support rape crisis centers around the state.

The 111-0 vote restores the money disbursed to 15 centers that last year helped 5,000 victims. It represents the House's first unanimous override of Haley's budget vetoes.

Lawmakers say they were particularly disappointed by the language Haley used in her veto. In her veto message, the governor referred to the add-on budget item as a distraction from the larger mission of the state's public health agency.

Republican Rep. Joan Brady of Columbia says being a survivor of rape doesn't make someone a distraction to government.

In response to the backlash over the veto, Haley has said she vetoed the money because of how the services were funded.

Late Tuesday, the following post appeared on Haley's official facebook page: "veto of SC Coalition of Domestic Violence $453,680. Special interests made their way into the DHEC budget. This is not about the merit of their fights but the back door way of getting the money. It's wrong and another loophole for legislators and special interests to use. Defeated 111-0."

A few lawmakers called on Haley to apologize for the post, claiming she referred to rape victims as special interests.

Overrides require two-thirds majority votes in both the House and Senate. The Senate meets Wednesday.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report).