The "Great Recession" continues to linger, hovering over the American economy like the cliched scene from bad Westerns of vultures circling in the desert sky. Although the economy has begun to show signs of recovery, the recessions effects are still being felt, particularly by State governments. With fewer tax revenues coming in, State legislatures and Governors are struggling to create balanced budgets, as mandated by many state Constitutions and laws.
The South Carolina State Legislature, on June 3rd, ratified H.4657, the FY 2010-2011 General Appropriations Bill, which provided funding for state agencies, the operations of state government, colleges and universities, etc., sending it on to Governor Mark Sanford to be signed into law.
As most Governors do, the South Carolina’s Governor has the power of the line item veto; rather than vetoing an entire budget or act, a Governor can veto parts of the budget or act that he or she disagrees with. On June 9th, Governor Sanford exercised that power to veto 107 separate line items in the General Appropriations Bill, including $558,573 for in funding for the University of South Carolina’s Nanotechnology Research Program.
In his veto letter to the Speaker and Members of South Carolina’s House of Representatives, Gov. Sanford refered to the lines vetoed as representing "financially reckless policy". Among other lines vetoed by Governor Sanford was funding for county public libraries and for the State’s Budget and Control Board’s offices that provide revenue projections, monitor state spending, and make sure that vendors get paid for providing goods and services to the State.
In his letter, Gov. Sanford justified his veto of USC’s nanotech research program by stating that ". . . we believe that public money put toward such research efforts should be matched with significant private investment. Unfortunately, to date we have not seen this program draw down a lot of private investment."
The South Carolina House and State Senate voted to override some of the vetoes, including the veto of funds for county public libraries. The veto of funding for USC’s nanotech research program was sustained, along with 50 other vetoes. An AP article quoted a Republican member of the House as noting that if such budget cuts and their ripple effects continue " . . .we’re going to wind up poor, barefooted, broke, and behind Mississippi."
Governor Sanford’s term ends in January 2011, when a newly elected Governor is sworn into office.