COLUMBIA, SC (WCSC/WIS) - Gov. Nikki Haley says she vetoed 87 items from the state's budget, but money for four big projects, including a new children's hospital at the Medical University of South Carolina, survived.
The vetoes cut more than $30 million from the $7 billion budget just before the start of the state's new fiscal year.
"I think the process is getting better," Haley said. "I think while we have some heated exchanges with the legislature, it's actually working."
Haley did not veto $25 million for MUSC's new Shawn Jenkins Children's Hospital. MUSC spokesperson Heather Woolwine called Haley's announcement "very exciting news."
"MUSC is thrilled by the display of health care leadership for our state from our General Assembly and our Governor," Woolwine said in a statement. "This $25 million investment will allow us to continue to move forward with the planned construction of the MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children's Hospital. The state depends on us to provide the best in tertiary pediatric and maternal-fetal care for our citizens. Now with the combined support of private philanthropy, state funds and HUD financing, we look forward to continuing this mission in this new facility."
She says she believes MUSC now has the $50 million they need to make a down payment and secure financing for the new children's hospital. Construction cannot start until financing is in place. According to imaginemusckids.org, almost $43 million has been raised through private donations.
A provision of $20 million for Trident Technical College's aeronautics training program also survived the veto process, along with a one-time $800 bonus for state employees and the biggest of the four, $70 million to fund projects related to Volvo's new plant in Berkeley County.
The governor turned in her 87 budget vetoes at 11:50 p.m. Monday, just 10 minutes under the required midnight deadline. She said most regarded earmarks or big pork projects, which she said had disappeared when recession hit in 2008, but are starting to show back up.
"This is not something we want to get back into," Haley said at a Tuesday morning press briefing. "We worked really hard to get earmarks out of the way. Just because we have new money, doesn't mean we want to start that process- so that is probably going to be a conversation we have going forward."
Haley's vetoes include budget lines for projects or programs that already receive funding through other sources, like a $4.5 million evacuation route through Horry and Georgetown Counties, which according to the governor's staff is already paid for through the state's Department of Transportation.
Another $367 million in supplemental funds are going towards road repairs and maintenance in the 2015-16 budget, but most of that money comes from one-time funds.
"There will be further conversations about roads, but I think that's something taxpayers can feel good about," Haley said.
The budget goes into effect following Governor Haley's vetoes, so it will be in place July 1, when the 2015-16 Fiscal Year begins.
Even though lawmakers still have a chance to debate and override the governor's cuts during a special session beginning on July 6, the budget was officially finalized and put in place with Haley's signature Monday night, meaning the budget goes into effect with the start of the July 1 fiscal year, a timeline which was uncertain just weeks ago with some lawmakers blasting both the governor and fellow legislators for the slowdown.
The special session's July 6 start date is also the day lawmakers are expected to take up the Confederate battle flag debate.