The governor issued his budget vetoes this past Monday. It is unclear at this time if the General Assembly will return to Columbia to address the vetoes this summer or wait until January. We will send a complete review of the legislative session in the coming weeks.
After adoption of the Conference Report on the FY 2017-18 state budget (H. 3720) and the Capital Reserve Fund (H. 3721) last week, the bills were sent to Governor Henry McMaster. State law allows the governor five days, excluding Sunday, to review the budget and issue his line item vetoes. This past Monday the governor released his veto message. He vetoed 41 specific line items totaling $56 million. Most noteworthy in his vetoes was $20 million in lottery proceeds earmarked for the purchase of new school busses. In his veto message, McMaster said lottery proceeds should be used solely for the purpose they were intended, to provide scholarships to qualifying students. The governor also vetoed the proviso that would remove some responsibility from the Commission on Higher Education (CHE) from what some colleges complained was redundant oversight for capital improvement projects. The CHE proviso provided for some drama during the Senate debate as senators requested to vote on the proviso separately before adopting the Conference Report. After initially voting to remove the proviso from the Conference Report, the Senate later reinserted it after it became clear that the budget conferees would have to renegotiate the state budget. McMaster said in his veto message that CHE must be allowed to exercise its oversight authority.
Other vetoed items included $25 million out of the budget that he said went to "unidentifiable pork" programs and $8 million to provide contraceptives for dependents of state employees covered by the state health plan. The governor also vetoed a proviso that transferred $6.6 million from the State Conservation Bank back into the General Fund.
A Joint Resolution S. 692 (Senator Leatherman), adopted in May allows the General Assembly to continue past the mandatory May 11 Sine Die deadline if necessary. That resolution would allow them to return one final time this year in order to address the governor's vetoes. If they do not return this year, the General Assembly will address the vetoes in January.
The $7.9 billion general fund budget did not include a pay increase for state employees, but did fully fund the increase in their healthcare costs. The total state budget, including the $7.9 general fund revenue, other funds (fines, fees, etc.) and federal funds, now totals nearly $27 billion.
To view the governor's Veto Message click here.
All budget documents can be found here.
Individual state agency budget requests can be found here.
More than sixty bills received third and final reading during the last week of the legislative session. That represents nearly half of all bills passed during the five-month legislative session. Click here to view all bills ratified this session.
COMING UP NEXT WEEK
The General Assembly has completed their work for the year unless they decide to return one final time to address gubernatorial vetoes. We will send a complete review of the legislative session in the coming weeks.