COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster issued 73 vetoes to the state budget on Wednesday, June 22. The governor had called for more transparency from lawmakers in creating the budget, and signaled before the budget was finalized that lawmakers needed to supply more detailed information on each requested appropriation item as to how the money would be spent or face a line item veto.
In a statement issued to members of the General Assembly, McMaster highlighted some 2022-23 budget wins:
- raising the minimum starting salary for new public school teachers to $40 thousand a year, up from $30 thousand just five years ago
- a 1% rate reduction over five years for all personal income tax brackets for the fourth year in a row
- using federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds totaling over $2.4 billion to improve roads and interstates, address outdated rural water and sewer systems, and expand broadband internet service to all parts of the state
- ending state income taxes on military veteran retirement pay
- and providing $40 million in new dollars for recruitment and retention pay raises, salary adjustments and additional benefits for law enforcement positions at all state agencies.
The governor then went over his reasons behind his line item vetoes -- some due to duplicate requests, others because he says lawmakers did not provide a sufficient description of how the money would be used, and a few because he says he felt local money should be used to pay for projects instead of state money.
McMaster's line item vetoes include:
- hiring non-certified teachers, saying a fingerprint-based background check would have to be authorized by a state staute...so a proviso in a state budget is not sufficient to authorize this type of identification check. "While I admire this creative proposal to address the teacher shortage," he said, "this policy initiative cannot be implemented in a manner that risks compromising the safety and security of our children, and SLED has indicated that comprehensive fingerprint-based background checks cannot be performed without specific statutory authorization."
- $25 million proviso for the purchase of a "quantum" supercomputer, which McMaster called "an end run around the state procurement laws." The item would have funded the creation of a non-profit in Columbia that would operate the computer and make it available to researchers, innovators and entrepreneurs for a profit.
- $7 million for a Cultural Welcome Center in Orangeburg, requested by Clemson PSA
- multiple requests by South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation & Tourism (SCPRT) for capital improvements, equipment, and -- in once instance funding a non-profit that exists for the purpose of managing and holding debutante cotillions.
You can read McMaster's 15-page Veto Message, complete with his line item vetoes here:
Lawmakers can return to Columbia deal with the vetoes, but they must do by Friday, July 1, as that's when the new budget takes effect.