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Veto! What are your thoughts on these?

S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster Wednesday vetoed a total $40.7 million from the state’s $9.3 billion spending plan — leaving in place hundreds of millions of dollars to give pay raises to teachers, state employees and judges, and to return some money to taxpayers.

Below is his official veto message that I always like to share with my constituents. If you see a veto of interest to you, please let me know. To override the veto, it takes 2/3rd of the House and Senate. To sustain the veto, it only takes 1/3 of one body.


Dear Mr. Speaker and Members of the General Assembly:

I am vetoing and returning without my approval certain line items in R110, H. 4000, the
FY 2019-20 General Appropriations Act. However, I am happy to celebrate our successful
partnership in producing a resounding win for the people and prosperity of South Carolina.
South Carolina is on the rise. In the last two years alone, we have announced over $9
billion dollars in new capital investment and over 28,000 new jobs. Our agricultural base is
accelerating, our tourism industry is thriving, and we have become a major high-tech
manufacturing hub. South Carolina is the nation’s top exporter of tires and of completed

Our average annual manufacturing employment growth is 16%, the highest in the
southeast. Over and over we are recognized as one of the best places in the country to do
business, to visit or to vacation.

The current economic competition for jobs, investment, business, knowledge and talent is
as fierce and sophisticated as the world has ever known. It is a competition between states,
nations, companies and continents which offers reward and security for those who succeed.
Viewed in this context of economic competition, it is clear what we must do for future
generations of South Carolinians. We must compete. We must win.

In my inaugural address, I asked my colleagues in the General Assembly to work with me
in a new spirit of communication, cooperation and collaboration. We may wear different
jerseys, but we are all on the same team.

My executive budget contained bold proposals to keep South Carolina winning, and the
General Assembly has embraced and adopted over sixty of them in this state budget.
Together, we recommitted ourselves to providing the highest quality education for all of
South Carolina’s children. Recruiting and retaining excellent teachers was enthusiastically
embraced by both chambers and parties, resulting in the first of many steps to continue investing
in our teachers and our classrooms. Increasing teacher compensation was our first bold step, and
we will take more.

As I have previously noted, being perceived as weak in education is not good. But being
perceived as weak in education and not being committed to fixing it is disastrous.
The Rural School District Economic Development Closing Fund proposed in my
executive budget and included in this budget will provide the “spark” for recruiting jobs and
investment into our state’s most impoverished school districts. This funding will enhance
recruitment of companies in areas of the state which they might not otherwise consider – creating
jobs, infrastructure and long-term revenue.

Creating jobs and careers in these school districts will help transform these communities –
providing stability, keeping families together and offering the opportunities of prosperity. This
state budget emphatically begins the process of making the words “Corridor of Shame” a fading

Our classrooms and schools must also be safe, free from distraction and violence. That’s
why I proposed placing a School Resource Officer, a trained law enforcement officer, in every
school, in every county, all day, every day. The General Assembly has commendably provided
significant recurring funding to begin this process right away.

This state budget also fully supports my proposal to provide every public school in our
state with access to a mental health counselor through the Department of Mental Health’s school
services program. This way, the warning signs of troubled behavior and violence can be detected
before it occurs.

Thanks to a strong and vibrant South Carolina economy, our state enjoyed an unexpected
surplus in state government revenue. A surplus offers a rare opportunity for prioritizing the
essential needs of state government and then returning the balance to the taxpayers. While not
as large as I proposed, the General Assembly did embrace my proposal for a refund. For the first
time in recent history – and I hope not the last – South Carolina taxpayers will receive a one-time
rebate check.

This state budget also funds my proposed one-year freeze on tuition and fees for in-state
students at our public technical schools, colleges and research universities for the 2019 – 2020
academic year. I hope that this one-year tuition freeze will serve as the first step toward a
comprehensive overhaul of higher education funding and tuition reform.

Prosperity requires that we increase our investment in developing a skilled workforce to
fill the demands of today and tomorrow. The skills required in today’s modern workplace require
us to stay ahead of demand and adapt with rapid advancements in technology.

Accordingly, this budget directs more resources and funding toward enhancing workforce
training and development than ever before. Workforce scholarships and grants, apprenticeships,
skilled trade recruitment, and partnerships through our state’s technical colleges will continue to
provide South Carolina businesses with a pipeline of future employees who are ready to work.

One of the most important roles of government is to provide for the safety of its citizens.
Maintaining a sufficient law enforcement presence in South Carolina requires keeping
experienced officers in their jobs, as well as hiring and training new ones. This state budget
includes several of my executive budget proposals for public safety, including pay raises,
retention bonuses and the hiring of new officers. There are no finer law enforcement officers in
the United States than our own in South Carolina.

To my colleagues in the General Assembly I say: The people of South Carolina saw the
year begin with our pledges of cooperation, communication and collaboration. I believe this
state budget embodies that commitment. Let us continue to work together vigorously, thereby
ensuring that future generations of South Carolinians can keep winning and prospering.\

In that spirit, I ask that the General Assembly thoughtfully consider and sustain each of
the following vetoes:

Governor McMaster’s first budget veto message

One of the most important roles in the General Assembly is being a good steward of your tax dollars.

I take that role very seriously and every year am one of the House Members who usually sustains many budget vetoes (that means, I agree with the message for the veto). I used to catch a lot of grief for this back in the day (first elected, new guy, “that’s not what we do around here, Ballentine”). Since then, members realize that I’m voting as I feel is best – AND – based on feedback from the people I represent.

You can imagine the “peer pressure” back when someone had a project in there and you were telling them you can’t help them. But, as I wrote many years ago, I was elected to represent my constituents and the best interests of the people – not any friends in the House or Senate.

With that said, now is your time to let me know your thoughts on Governor McMaster’s first budget vetoes . Unlike years past, the General Assembly won’t return in the coming weeks to consider these vetoes. It appears we may wait until January 2018 and take our votes then. Every year, you’ve given me great feedback and information I did not have previously. If you have a strong opinion one way or another (to override or to sustain the veto), please let me know.

Comment below, contact me here , or email me at (please put CONSTITUENT in the subject line) and give me your advice. I would appreciate it!

Veto! What’s your thoughts on these?

rong> , I’d like to ask your thoughts on the Governor’s Budget Vetos which she shared earlier today.

Fiscal Year 2016-2017 General Appropriations Act

Fiscal Year 2016-2017 Capital Reserve Fund

If you’ve never seen a veto message before, those links show you exactly what each House and Senate member receives.

I usually sustain several vetoes; but not before hearing from you and your rationale for why that particular veto should be overridden or sustained.

The General Assembly will return next Wednesday, June 16th, to vote on these. We actually take a little longer than we used to before I was elected. Partly due to roll call voting; also due to more deliberation from the floor instead of the usual “override them all” mentality that was around for many years.

If you see something you feel strongly about (for or against), please let me know! You can always comment here in the comment section or click “Contact” up top on the website to send me an email.

For those outside the Richland, Lexington area, be sure you let your Representative or Senator know your thoughts!



The General Assembly returns Monday, July 6th, to deliberate “Budget Vetoes” that the Governor shared today in her press conference. Governor Haley was quoted as saying “What we saw was the rebirth of earmarks.” That reminded me of my push several years go to fix the practice of earmarks . I knew we would never eliminate them; but the reform we passed does require earmarks to be listed by sponsor and county. This allows members to see what members added to the budget that was not in the previous year’s budget or requested by state agencies through the normal process. Since that reform passed, members now KNOW about the earmarks and can decide whether or not to support them or not. As I mentioned years ago on Nathan’s News, the word “earmark” doesn’t have to mean “pork”…but that’s up to the individuals interpretation.

As I’ve done for the past several years , I wanted to share those vetoes with you and ask any constituents to contact me with your thoughts. Historically, the (vast) majority of vetoes get overridden by the Legislature. Through the years, though, we have seen more and more vetoes sustained.

For a “Veto Primer”, if the veto is overridden by the House, it goes to the Senate to be deliberated.
If the veto is sustained by the House, it doesn’t go to the Senate.
Should a veto be overridden by the House, and later sustained by the Senate…the veto ultimately is sustained.

Below are 87 vetoes this year. Governor Haley’s highest number of vetoes (but 2nd smallest by dollar amount of vetoes). Click on any link to see the Veto message. If you live in the Ballentine/Chapin/Dutch Fork/Irmo area, please contact me here or email me at to let me know your thoughts.

If you live in other parts of the state, please contact your Representative and Senator and pass along your opinions.

FY 2015-16 General Appropriations Act
FY 2015-16 Supplemental
FY 2015-16 Capital Reserve

(NOTE: in addition to these budget vetoes next week; the House and Senate will also debate the removal of the flag from the State House grounds. More on that later…)

Veto! Any thoughts on these?

As I’ve done for several years , I’d like to ask your thoughts on Budget Vetoes 2014.

If you’ve never seen a veto message before, that link shows you the message for the 2014-2015 General Appropriations Act.

I ususally sustain several; but not before hearing from you and your rationale for why that particular veto should be overridden or sustained.

The General Assembly will return next Tuesday, June 17th, to vote on these. We actually take a little longer than we used to before I was elected. Partly due to roll call voting; also due to more deliberation from the floor instead of the usual “override them all” mentality that was around for many years.

If you see something you feel strongly about (for or against), please let me know! You can always comment here in the comment section or click “Contact” up top on the website to send me an email.

For those outside the Richland, Lexington area, be sure you let your Representative or Senator know your thoughts!

Budget vetoes – let me know your thoughts

Being stewards of YOUR tax dollars is the biggest responsibility we have in the General Assembly. The budget (and vetoes) are very important and that’s why I’ve written many posts about these matters over the years on my website (search “budget”, “veto”, “vetoes” in the seach feature above to see). In fact, the budget is so important, I left Karen and the kids in Florida this morning so I could get back here to cast votes tomorrow.

Last year, I was able to deliver several hundred flyers to newspaper boxes around the community and had a week’s lead time to get your feedback. This year, we just got the vetoes at 4pm and so I’ll have to rely on my website , Twitter , and Facebook to get your input in the Irmo/Chapin/Ballentine/Dutch Fork areas!

I appreciated all the feedback on my site last year and hope you can find time this evening (or tomorrow morning) to help me again.

Click here (H3710, 71 vetoes) and here (H.3711, 10 vetoes) to read the veto messages from Governor Haley.

As always, your feedback is appreciated. Many times readers prefer to contact me directly instead of posting on the site. Whichever you prefer is fine by me!

Hearing from the constituents in Irmo/Chapin/Dutch Fork…as well as others across the state…helps me better understand differing opinions before casting these very important votes.

Thanks for helping me serve you better in Columbia!

Budget Vetoes – your thoughts?

Looks like we’re returning next week (July 17th) instead of September to take up Gubernatorial Budget Vetoes.

Click here and here to read the veto messages from Governor Haley.

As always, your feedback is appreciated. Many times readers prefer to contact me directly instead of posting on the site. Whichever you prefer is fine by me!

Hearing from the constituents in Irmo/Chapin/Dutch Fork…as well as others across the state…helps me better understand differing opinions before casting these very important votes.

Thanks for helping me serve you better in Columbia!

The VETO just got stronger

One thing in politics that never seems to change is the constant struggle for “power”.

I know what you’re thinking. Is that really what goes on? Shouldn’t the struggle be to improve the quality of life for our people? Well, yes it should…but the reality is that many politicians want to be “in charge”. It’s been that way since I was first elected and I’m sure it’s been that way long before I ever became a public servant.

Whether it’s at the local (city/county) level, state level or federal level….or between legislative/executive branches of government….or President/Congress….or oftentimes inside political parties or bodies….there’s always a battle going on somewhere. Seems everyone wants to be the “top dog”.

Lost in the shuffle last week was a House ruling based on a recent finding in the SC courts that actually shifted some “power” to the state’s executive branch. House Speaker Bobby Harrell shared with us in the chamber that going forward, the required minimum overriding votes on a veto that will be required to override that veto will be 43. (Difficult to write but I hope it made sense). To many, that might not seem like a change. To those that follow South Carolina politics, it is a big change.

Most constituents that read my website know that, oftentimes, elected officials (House/Senate) write “local legislation” that pertains only to their constituents/county or counties. The custom (since I’ve been there and I’m sure long before) is that other colleagues (House and Senate) would not even vote on such matters as it was (and still is) perceived that those local officials should know best how to represent their district(s).

As those bills passed (easily) in the House and Senate (oftentimes with fewer than 10 members voting), they would go to the Governor’s desk to be signed, pass without signature or be returned with a veto.

Prior to last week, those bills would become law one way or another. Why? Because even if the Governor would veto the bills, those same officials (again, 10 or less usually)would override the veto and – again – the rest of their colleagues “stood on the sideline”.

After last week, the House will now require a minimum of 43 members to override a veto. In my opinion that gave much more “power” to a Governor’s veto message. Particularly on local legislation.

Left to be seen though is the impact on budget vetos which historically are easily overturned year after year. Also, will members now help/hurt other colleagues on local legislation that gets vetoed? Instead of sitting out, will colleagues work the floor to muster up the 43 votes needed to have that bill become law?

In any event, if you ask a lot of officials, last week the House just made a gubernatorial veto much stronger than ever before.

Governor Haley’s Veto Pen

Today, House members received the first veto message from Governor Haley. The question is “what will the House do” (when we vote next week)?

For those outside the State House, a bill must pass both bodies (House and Senate) in identical form before going to the the Governor’s desk for final approval..or not.

The Governor then has a few days to either (a) sign the bill into law (b) veto the bill; or (c) let the bill become with without her signature. If the Governor vetos a bill, it takes 2/3 of House and Senate members – WHO VOTE ON THE VETO – to override the veto to become law. I capitalize “who vote on the veto” because in this particular instance the custom of both bodies is to defer to the local delegation and let them determine what they want to do.

As you can see from Governor Haley’s veto message , apparently this practice (or “tradition”) could be construed as supporting an unconstitutional measure.

I’m not a constitutional scholar (and with the exception of a very few in the State House, few of us are); but apparently the unconstitutionality comes in the form of the state legislative branch passing LOCAL legislation instead of STATEWIDE legislation.

So now the question becomes, will the House override the veto (as has been practice for many years) or will we listen to our Governor and her message and sustain the veto?

I’ll go on record as saying I’ve “stayed out of local matters” except for one time when I voted on a matter that the Spartanburg Delegation was working on (changing the name of the technical college in Spartanburg). I quickly learned “you don’t do that” (I was the only one to sustain the Govenor’s veto and I believe the only one outside of Spartanburg area that voted on the matter). Ever since then, I’ve done what everyone else does on local matters. Last year there was a heated matter in one county and in a rare display, several House members (outside the local county) voted on the veto to have their voice heard. Who knows, maybe they should have? Maybe we aren’t supposed to be doing local bills afterall?

With that being said, I plan to sustain this veto and hope most of the members will also.

[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.