South Carolina lawmakers return for last time in 2019
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina lawmakers on Tuesday headed back to the Statehouse for one more time in 2019 to take up Gov. Henry McMaster’s limited vetoes of the $9 billion state budget.
The governor worked with legislative leaders on the state’s spending plan, so they were in agreement on big items like $159 million on teacher raises, $65 million on a new fund to help attract businesses to the state’s poorest school districts and $67 million set aside so every income tax filer can get a $50 rebate check.
Many of the 28 items worth about $41 million that McMaster vetoed out of the budget went to items the governor said were requests lawmakers made without saying exactly where the money was going.
One big veto rejected $11 million for the Judicial Department for a case management system. McMaster said money needs to be spent on a system that can work with all parts of the criminal justice system.
In the past two years, lawmakers waited several months or until they returned in January to vote on whether to override budget vetoes.
But House Speaker Jay Lucas said he thinks it is best to have the budget complete before the fiscal year starts July 1.
“That’s just best practice,” Lucas said.
About two dozen members of public education nonprofit “SC for Ed” met lawmakers as they returned to remind them there is still work that needs to be done in terms of education reform.
WCSC-TV reports the size of Tuesday’s group was nowhere near that of the May 1 rally that brought thousands of teachers to Columbia. But their message was the same.
Lawmakers didn’t discuss any education legislation or funding, but the group wanted to let lawmakers know they are still there. In the next few months, lawmakers plan to meet with educators who won teacher of the year in their districts to continue that discussion.
“We think using the district teachers of the year gives them a broad perspective geographically ... to get research and advice from,” SC for Ed spokeswoman Lisa Ellis said.
The Senate Education Subcommittee will hold a meeting July 8 to continue the debate on the Education Reform Bill.
Lawmakers also could consider the only bill of nine passed in the May special session that was vetoed by the governor.
The proposal would allow erasing of a public disorderly conduct charge for first offenders under certain conditions.
In his veto message, McMaster says criminal records can be forgiven, but shouldn’t be erased.
“Criminal history, like all history, should not be erased. Rather, compassion should be informed by fact and should not be forced upon unwitting prospective employers and other interested parties,” McMaster wrote in his veto message. “An individual’s criminal history can be instructive, but it need not be destructive.”