State Superintendent Responds to Governor's Vetoes

Cheryl Sanders
June 14, 2017

Gov. Henry McMaster says he's reluctantly vetoed $20.5 million for new school buses in SC, saying lawmakers should not have used money from the lottery to buy or lease them.

McMaster served on commission from 1991 to 1994, and more recently made $492,000 helping to raise money for the recently-completed $80 million law school at the University of SC.

In the latest vetoes, McMaster chose to restore $16 million in funding for the state's Conservation Bank, which spends money to set aside land in SC as parts of the state continue to develop rapidly.

Walter Potter operates a vegetable stand in Moncks Corner. The money was supposed to have come from lottery money generated by greater sales and unclaimed prizes.

State Superintendent Molly Spearman criticized that decision for "putting the safety of our students at risk". "Those that have caught fire, and you have an older bus fleet", Simrill said.

Instead of using the budget, McMaster says lawmakers should debate the bank's future through regular legislation when they return next January. That's what he should do. But after continually failing to set aside the money, the state now would need $72 million to replace buses that are at least 15 years old and are causing most of the problems.

Officials said lawmakers approve a budget line like "agribusiness development" without details, then individual legislators go back after the budget is approved and tell the agencies getting the money how to spend it. Buying a school bus costs about $80,000.

South Carolina's aging buses are proving to be a fire hazard for S.C. students, the state Department of Education says. "We know how many we're going to get, we know how much money we have and buy the school buses". The biggest veto is $20.5 million for new school buses. About one-third of that money ($20.5 million) would have gone to buy new school buses.

The governor's budget vetoes come less than a week after members of the South Carolina House and Senate passed a roughly $8 billion budget and voted in support of language that would have stripped the college regulator of its ability to review big-ticket projects, including new multi-million dollar football stadiums.

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