Senate meets to take up 51 of Haley's vetoes

SC Senate votes reopen 2 agencies in overrides

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WACH, AP) -- Budget overrides by the South Carolina Senate reopen two agencies, give $10 million to districts for salary increases and transfer that same amount to the Commerce Department to close deals.

The Senate upheld three of Gov. Nikki Haley's budget vetoes. That's in addition to the 30 upheld Tuesday in the House.

The tally represents 41 percent of her 81 vetoes. They remove $4 million from the Legislature's combined $6.8 billion general fund section of the budget and capital reserve spending bills.

Haley says she applauds the Legislature for removing much of what she considers local pork projects.

Senators overrode vetoes that eliminated all state and federal money for the Arts Commission and Sea Grant Consortium. The agencies are expected to reopen Thursday. Between the two agencies, around 40 employees have been unemployed since July 6.

Elizabeth Swards with the Arts Commission says the arts are important to the quality of life in the community.

"It's disappointing that we have to battle the budget and the vetoes every year," said Swards.

During a news conference Wednesday, Haley continued to defend her veto.

"It's not that we don't like the arts, but you have to question the fact you have 18 people in an 18,000 square foot building; a director making $100,000 in a year, where I don't think South Carolina is stable. I think there are a lot of other things that money could be going toward," said Haley.

The Senate also restored $10 million to the budget to help school districts pay for mandated teacher salary increases.

The Senate voted 41-2 on Wednesday to override Gov. Nikki Haley's budget veto, a day after the House voted 113-1.

Legislators say if the veto stood, districts would have to raise local property taxes to provide the 2 percent raises a budget clause requires.

Haley says she's not against teachers, but salaries shouldn't be paid with one-time money. She notes she left in place $39 million designated in recurring money.

The $10 million comes from the penny added to the state sales tax in 1984 for education innovation.

House Majority Leader Kenny Bingham notes that money can be used only on education, and all budgets are for one year.

In a 39-2 vote, the Senate voted to restore money supporting 15 rape crisis centers. The action disburses $454,000 to the nonprofits that assist victims at the hospital and through the legal process, provide counseling and educate students on violence prevention. The House overrode the veto unanimously Tuesday.

Legislators say Haley's veto message and subsequent posting Tuesday on Facebook were callous. She didn't back down Wednesday. She repeated the money represents an earmark to a special interest, and legislators shouldn't give money to nonprofits.

Haley signed off on a slight increase for rape prevention in an agency's budget. The centers don't share in that increase.

The Senate also voted to restore money providing assistance to kidney disease, hemophilia, and sickle cell patients, and funding AIDS prevention programs.

In South Carolina, both the Senate and House must override a veto for the governor's decision to be overturned. Overriding a veto requires a two-thirds majority in each chamber.

On Tuesday, the House voted to go along with 30 of Gov. Nikki Haley's vetoes, which will become law.

Seven of the upheld vetoes struck budget directives that had no money attached. Several others struck clauses requiring an agency to spend money on specific programs, including $200,000 on head lice prevention. That money stays with the agencies.

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