The South Carolina House overrode most of Gov. Nikki Haley's 76 budget vetoes Tuesday, including voting to put a $12,000 a year raise for themselves back into the budget. They also restored $2 million to help seniors stay in their homes.
Gov. Haley's vetoes added up to almost $18.5 million.
The raise for lawmakers is technically for in-district expenses, but they get the check at the beginning of the year and don't have to show any receipts for how they spend it.
The House took a vote on the raise and didn't have enough votes to override, but then took another vote and overrode the veto, which put the money back in the budget.
Rep. Jim Merrill, R-Daniel Island, told House members, "The fact is, more and more people are coming and saying they just simply can't afford to serve in the General Assembly. It's a little bit contrary to most people's thoughts. They say they want better folks in the House of Representatives and the Senate, but, then again, nobody wants to pay them to come here."
The raise is still not definite. The Senate will also need a two-thirds vote of senators who are present and voting in order to override the veto. If they also override, lawmakers will get the additional money.
The $2 million for the Office on Aging would be for that agency to provide $500 respite vouchers so in-home caregivers can get a break to run errands, go to the doctor, or just get some sleep. The Office on Aging says that money will save taxpayers much more, because if the state loses the free care being provided by those family members, some of those seniors will end up in nursing homes that cost taxpayers a lot more.
The House also overrode the governor's veto of:
--$150,000 for the Greenville Children's Museum
--$200,000 for the Walhalla Civic Auditorium Preservation
--$100,000 for the SC Hall of Fame in Horry County
--$100,000 for the Charles Lea Center in Spartanburg, which serves people with disabilities
--$2 million for the Sports Development Fund at the Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism, which will provide matching grants for local sports facilities that attract traveling teams
--$300,000 for the Shrine Bowl in Spartanburg