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Henry McMaster Issues Budget Vetoes




South Carolina governor Henry McMaster issued a handful of budget vetoes on Monday in response to the massive $29 billion spending plan sent to his desk by the “Republican-controlled” S.C. General Assembly earlier this month.

Among the top ticket items singled out by the new governor?  Lottery funding for school buses – which drew a sharp rebuke from S.C. superintendent of education, Molly Spearman.

All told, McMaster’s forty-one vetoes totaled $56.3 million … barely a drop in the bucket of the state’s bloated budget.  Those weak totals are consistent with our expectation of “veto anemia” on the part of the new governor.

A month ago we predicted McMaster – who continues to be dogged by his proximity to a corruption scandal targeting his longtime (now former) political advisor – would work “in partnership with lawmakers on their ever-escalating state spending plans.”

With a handful of exceptions, that’s exactly what he did …

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By our calculations, McMaster vetoed less than one-fifth of one percent of the state’s fiscal year 2017-2018 spending plan, which is scheduled to take effect on July 1.  So while these vetoes will make headlines around the state – and no doubt prompt hand-wringing on the part of the state’s liberal elite (and its mainstream media mouthpieces) – don’t confuse them as some sort of principled stand on behalf of fiscal conservatism.

Because they’re not …

In barely lifting a finger to stop runaway government growth in the Palmetto State, McMaster followed the example of former S.C. governor Nikki Haley – whom he replaced back in January.  Despite talking a big game on behalf of taxpayers, Haley routinely came up short when it came time to actually limit government.

McMaster has had a mixed bag on fiscal issues since he took over for Haley following her late January confirmation as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.  He did veto a totally unnecessary, possibly unconstitutional gas tax increase – the correct decision –  although as we’ve repeatedly pointed out there are some questions as to whether his veto was on the level.

Prior to has gas tax veto, McMaster signed a massive $826 million annual tax hike aimed at bailing out the state’s woefully mismanaged pension fund.

One veto we did like?  McMaster took steps to restore the ability of the S.C. Commission on Higher Education (SCCHE) to provide its input on proposed building projects undertaken by the Palmetto State’s excessively large network of colleges and universities.  It’s unlikely to make much of a practical difference, but if such a move stops even one wasteful project it will have been worth it.



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