South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster speaks during a virtual cabinet meeting Thursday, Aug. 20, 2020. 

(The Center Square) – South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster said Friday that he had vetoed 226 earmarked appropriations worth $152.5 million from the state’s budget. That meant there were 15 total vetoes of seven budget subsections.

McMaster said the main reason for those vetoes was an overall lack of transparency on what the money would be used for. The governor fundamentally disagreed with the earmarks, which included who the sponsor was and the intended recipient of the funds but did not say how the money would be used.

“The bulk of these earmarked appropriations still lack sufficient context, description, explanation of merit … justification of how the recipient intends to spend the funds is not there,” he said. “No matter how deserving the project, the public must be confident that accountability measures are in place to ensure that these funds, their money, are ultimately spent appropriately by the recipient.”

The line-item vetoes included some projects that the governor had proposed or sponsored because they were lumped together in subsections with proposals that the governor believed lacked sufficient explanation.

When asked for examples of the vetoes, some of the those included $50,000 to the town of Brunson and $250,000 for a ship-wreck survey.

“Once again, I call on the General Assembly to consider my proposal to create public, merit-based competitive grant processes for these types of appropriations,” McMaster said.

That process would then allow for the state agencies to appropriate funds after an exploratory process on the projects, rather than the funding coming through individual lines in the state budget.

McMaster began Friday’s news conference touting the successes within the state’s $10.8 billion budget for FY 2021-22, which begins July 1. That budget included 166 of McMaster’s proposals, which was $1.58 billion of what was funded.

He highlighted several other areas of the budget he counted as successes, including a $1,000 across-the-board pay raise for teachers that McMaster said was lower than the $3,000 he originally had suggested before the COVID-19 pandemic.

He also highlighted work done for at-risk students, expanding full-day kindergarten availability for all at-risk 4-year-olds. The budget also included a continued public college and university tuition freeze, funding for school resource officers and nurses in every school and an additional $10 million spent on broadband expansion.

“This state budget includes my proposal to boost financial aid for students from lower income households. By increasing this aid to $80 million – every South Carolinian who qualifies for federal needs-based financial aid – or federal Pell Grants – will have the necessary financial assistance to attend any in-state public, private, independent college, university, or historically black college or university.”

The budget also included $21.1 million in additional funding for law enforcement recruitment and retention and $40 million additional in workforce training funding.