SC SENATE UNANIMOUSLY OVERRIDES HALEY PORT VETO
By a vote of 39-0, S.C. Senators angrily overrode Gov. Nikki Haley’s veto of legislation aimed at mitigating the economic and environmental damage caused by her “Savannah River Sellout.” The vote came less than 24 hours after the S.C. House of Representatives overrode Haley by a 111-1 margin.
Ridiculing Haley’s efforts to grant a major competitive advantage to the State of Georgia as the “rape of the river,” Republicans and Democrats united again in unanimous opposition to Haley’s appeasement of the Port of Savannah’s taxpayer-funded expansion plans – which would not only harm the Port of Charleston but jeopardize private sector jobs at a proposed Port of Jasper.
Without a single dissenting vote, both the House and Senate passed legislation last month rebuking Haley – in effect voiding the controversial decision reached last November by her appointees to the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC).
In fact, if you count the passage of the original legislation and the votes to override Haley’s veto, lawmakers voted against Haley’s sellout on four separate occasions by a whopping 298-1 margin.
Referred to by one State Senator as “the worst mistake of any governor in my lifetime,” Haley’s sellout could wind up costing the Palmetto State hundreds of millions of dollars.
First, it makes it much more difficult for the Port of Charleston to regain the competitive ground it has lost to the Port of Savannah over the past eight years. It also effectively eliminates any chance that a deep water port will be built in Jasper County – guaranteeing that taxpayers will be on the hook for the expansion of Georgia’s government-run port rather than benefiting from a the creation of a public-private port in South Carolina.
Also, Haley’s sellout is far worse for the environment seeing as the Jasper County port site is located fourteen miles closer to the ocean than the Port of Savannah. Moreover the technology that is supposed to mitigate the adverse effect of the excess dredging is totally unproven.
Fiscally-speaking, the sellout is shaping up to be a bad news for taxpayers as well. Because Haley has given Georgia’s competitive interests such a shot in the arm, state lawmakers now feel compelled to shell out a whopping $180 million in the FY 2012-13 budget to begin deepening Charleston Harbor.
The drama isn’t over, either, as S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson is continuing to investigate the matter on behalf of the Savannah River Maritime Commission, the state agency that’s statutorily tasked with representing South Carolina’s maritime interests on the river.
That could get interesting – particularly seeing as Haley has been accused of receiving financial and political favors from moneyed interests in Georgia in exchange for her advocacy on behalf of the Port of Savannah – charges she has aggressively defended herself against.
Also, several State Senators made it clear during the debate to override Haley that they weren’t finished investigating the matter, either.
Shortly after her 2010 election, Haley instigated a major spat with Georgia – sending a clear warning across the Savannah River regarding port-related issues.
“You now have a governor who does not like to lose,” Haley told a cheering crowd of S.C. State Ports Authority supporters in Charleston. “Georgia has had their way with us for way too long, and I don’t have the patience to let it happen anymore.”
Last October, though – right around the time that Georgia donors allegedly began stroking checks to her campaign – Haley’s tune began to change.
“Every port is different, and every port has its challenges,” Haley told Savannah’s WJCL/FOX 28. “We have to say ‘What do we need to do that is right for the region?’ Our goal is to make sure every port (in the region) is successful.”
No, governor … your job is to make our ports successful, not cut backroom deals with Georgia that guarantee that their toxic sludge will be dumped on our prime port real estate.