[UPDATED] Budget Vetoes: a look back (and ahead)

I’m supposed to be enjoying some R&R on the SC Coast, but I remembered I said I would write about the Budget Vetoes this week and so, sitting here on the Grand Strand watching the Gamecocks in the College World Series (after several delays tonight), I’ll type a quick recap for you off the top of my head.

Long story short, the outcome this week really shows how far we’ve come in my short-time in office.

One month before I was elected (6 years ago), the House overrode almost all Gubernatorial Vetoes in two hours . This year? We spent 16 hours (9 a.m. Wednesday until 1 a.m. Thursday) debating all 107 vetoes and a few other matters.

As the Governor’s press release read early Thursday morning “…not only (did our votes to sustain several vetoes represent) the high water mark for the past eight years of our Administration, but also the highest number of budget vetoes sustained by any governor since Carroll Campbell 23 years ago and the highest dollar amount of budget vetoes sustained in state history.”

The House sustained 51 out of 107 which represented a potential $261million that can be used to plug the large hole in our Medicaid program that I’ll mention below AND/OR can help in next year’s budget when we no longer have millions of “stimulus” money available to us.

Off the top of my head, I believe I voted to override about 10 or so vetoes: 19, 20, 21, 23, 24, 33, 65, 73, 74, 77, 78. I’ll check later to be sure. Basically: ETV, Museum, Tech Schools, Textbooks, Buses, Reapportionment for House/Senate.

Why those and not others?

Obviously, first I listened to my constituents and made sure to review all their requests in greater detail than I might have given some others. Next, I wanted to prioritize (as best I could) so that we could set aside as much funding as possible (through sustaining vetoes) in order to help meet the Medicaid Maintenance of Effort money ($172M) that I knew the House would be left needing to fulfill when we sustained the Part IV section of the budget . Our last vote of the night/morning was one that saw us overwhelming sustain that Part IV veto.

Long story short, the Part IV funding (enhanced Federal Medical Assistance Percentage) is “pretend money” because it has not yet been approved by Washington. In fact, this money may actually never come and therefore we did the right thing and recognized it was not responsible to anticipate those funds and instead we worked to find as much funding as possible to replace the $172M we will be required to have in order to allow our state to draw down OVER $1 BILLION in Federal Matching dollars.

Not many voters knew about that and maybe now it might help some who have been scratching their head saying “Why didn’t they override such-n-such veto?” Hopefully, knowing we need to find $172M to draw down $1 BILLION might help understand motives behind votes.

Quite simply, I voted to override a few items that I felt focused on education (a primary repsonsibility of government) as well as mandates for the House/Senate to redraw district lines after the census is complete. Please be sure you read that correctly, my votes for House/Senate were for funds to be used during the reapportionment process and not “every day items”. I did NOT vote for Vetoes 48 and 49 though which were “Senate – Employee Benefits” and “House – Rep Salary @ $10,400”. (By the way, the House sustained our veto but the Senate later overrode theirs.)

For a complete summary of all House votes on budget vetoes, visit the SC Policy Council website or click here.

I would like to thank the hundred+ constituents who called and emailed me with their opinions on the vetoes prior to our votes being cast. Almost all of them shared that they understand the task is not an easy one and they did not envy my position. Thank you to for those that understood that my vote to sustain was not “against” their agency/request but was simply what I thought is best for our state to meet other obligations. Obligations, that if not met, would mean even deeper cuts to their agency/request next year.

[UPDATED, June 26] I’m back from vacation and took time to review my votes, turns out I also voted to override 31, 71 and 82. Also, I found it interesting (but not surprising) that today’s State paper had this to share about the $25 million veto the House voted to sustain dealing with the Budget and Control Board.