Gov. Nikki Haley praised a $7.5 billion budget that funds educational programs and emphasizes preventing domestic violence while vetoing 51 items totaling $41.1 million that she says represent micromanagement of state government and legislators’ pet pork projects.
Included in those vetoes is a feasibility study on relocating the Confederate Relic Room, currently housed at the S.C. State Museum and containing the Confederate flag removed from the Statehouse dome, to Charleston.
“When we worked on bringing down the Confederate flag, there was a lot of talking that I needed to do with legislators,” said Haley, who said those conversations focused on putting the flag in a “proper, respectful place” at the state museum. “Never in any of those conversations with any of those people did they talk about moving it to Charleston. Moving it to Charleston is because a couple of legislators, or former legislators, want it moved to Charleston. … We talked about Columbia. Never did we talk about Charleston.
Haley vetoed six budget items relating to state museums and cultural programs, though $5 million for a proposed African-American museum in Charleston remained in the budget.
“We’re a state that’s still healing,” Haley said at a Statehouse press conference this morning. “We’re coming up on the anniversary of June 17. I very much feel a responsibility to hold our state together and to make sure that we understand the significance of June 17 and that we understand that we can only grow from that. And so I thought that was important that that stay.”
Haley singled out funding for computer science initiatives and 144 new prosecutors to handle domestic violence cases as praiseworthy while chiding government agencies for perceived bad budget behavior. As an example, Haley said the state Attorney General’s budget increased by 75% as things such as raises and new positions were “rolled up” into funding for child protection services. Without line-item veto power, Haley said, she had to approve the entire chunk of spending.
“We’re starting to see earmarks hidden within other things,” she said. “It’s a red flag because I don’t want this to become a habit for every agency to do. We don’t want that kind of abuse of power.”
Haley spoke beside a board listing “Pork, Earmarks, and Pet Projects,” which included a proposed $1 million for the Children’s Museum of the Upstate and $350,000 for Charleston’s Gibbes Museum of Art.
“It’s not to say that these projects aren’t valuable. It’s not to say that these projects aren’t doing good in the community,” Haley said. “It’s to say that this is not the job of the taxpayers of South Carolina.”
- Haley also vetoed a capture, tag and release program for coyotes, though she seemed unsure about her decision, asking, “Did we veto that one? We didn’t, did we?” Veto confirmed, she said: “If you can go and tag a coyote, why wouldn’t you just get rid of it? That’s the only way I can say it. Why are you going to create a bounty to go out and get these coyotes when you’re in shot range to get the coyote already?”
- Haley said she’ll decide whether to attend the Republican National Convention in Cleveland July 18-21 after the General Assembly adjourns for the session on Wednesday. As to whether she still supports the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump, Haley said: “I’ve always said that I’m going to support the GOP nominee, but this is one of those things where we’re just going to keep watching and seeing what happens. … When you are a candidate, when you are an elected official, how you communicate matters. How you bring people together matters.”