The Palmetto Insider

The blog of the South Carolina Policy Council

Veto Do-Overs for Dept. of Education, S.C. State, and Dept. of Agriculture

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One of the most frustrating aspects of monitoring the veto process in the Legislature is that even once a veto is sustained, a vote may be retaken on the same veto, resulting in an override. As The Nerve reported regarding last year’s veto process:

Last year, for example, the governor issued 47 line-item budget vetoes. In the end, the House sustained 17 of those vetoes, and the Senate sustained another four. But the first time around, the House sustained 24 and the Senate sustained 12, only to go back and reconsider seven and eight vetoes, respectively.

This year, legislators followed the same strategy – if on a more modest level. Out of 107 vetoes, the House sustained 51. However, this number does not include 3 vetoes that were initially sustained and then overridden: 

1)      Veto 1: The governor argued here that two nonmandatory student assessment programs administered by the Department of Education duplicate assessment tools currently in use. The veto was initially sustained by a vote of 70 to 48; and then overridden by a vote of 78 to 33. This was the first budget veto taken up by the House. Subsequently, the chamber sustained all but 1 of the governor’s first 13 vetoes, perhaps seeming to bolster observations that legislators are running scared.

2)      Veto 39: This veto pertained to S.C. State University’s Community Leadership and Economic Development program, funded at roughly $369,000. In our recent analysis of the governor’s vetoes, this veto was described as one of several that aimed to transfer economic development initiatives from higher educational institutions to the Department of Commerce. The governor noted that “this program … is not consistent with S.C. State’s PSA’s core function of enhancing our state’s agricultural and natural resources.” The veto was initially sustained by a vote of 56 to 54; then overridden by a vote of 85 to 28.

3)      Veto 94: This veto concerned $200,000 appropriated to the Department of Agriculture as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act – i.e., the two-year federal stimulus. Generally, the governor vetoed expenditures on programs not related to education and law enforcement. (After all, that’s why we accepted the money in the first place … right?) This veto was sustained by a vote of 70 to 44; then overridden by a vote of 87 to 25. A handful of other vetoes regarding the use of stimulus funding on noncore services were sustained, but the majority were not.

Several vetoes were also sustained upon a revote apparently intended to bring about an overturn. These include vetoes 40, 43, 74 and 89. In one case – veto 6, regarding consultant fees within the Commission on Higher Education – the veto was overridden, sustained upon a revote, and then overridden again.

Meeting on June 17, the Senate overrode 29 of 56 of the remaining vetoes already overridden by the House. The Senate will reconvene on June 29 to take up the final 27 vetoes.

In an unusual twist, the governor has asked the Senate for a do-over on its vote to increase its own operating budget by $4.3 million. By contrast, the House upheld the governor’s veto of its own $1.2 million staffing/operating budget increase. Will the Senate do the same? If so, it’ll be one do-over that finally goes the governor’s way.

CLICK HERE to download the Policy Council’s exclusive, vote-by-vote breakdown showing how the House voted on each veto. 

CLICK HERE to download the Policy Council’s exclusive, vote-by-vote breakdown showing how the Senate has voted so far on each veto.

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Written by Jameson Taylor

June 21, 2010 at 12:55 pm

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