Gov. Haley faces budget veto deadline
COLUMBIA — South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley faces a deadline for striking items from the Legislature’s $6.7 billion budget plan and $100 million reserve spending that was passed last week.
Any vetoes must come Thursday before midnight, but the governor is not publicly discussing what she vetoed until Friday afternoon.
State law gave Haley five days, excluding Sunday, to issue vetoes. Otherwise, a bill becomes law without her signature.
The Legislature approved a compromise on the $6.7 billion spending plan for state taxes last Thursday, as well as a separate measure designating $100 million from a rainy-day fund. Neither reached Haley’s desk until Friday, delaying the clock by a day.
The spending plans will take effect with Haley’s decisions, five days after the fiscal year started. An improving economy gave legislators an additional $1.3 billion in projected one-time and recurring revenue to allocate in 2012-13.
A stalemate over small business tax cuts blocked a compromise for weeks as a government shutdown loomed. A continuing resolution kept government running at current levels while she considered her vetoes.
Legislators will return to Columbia to consider overriding Haley’s vetoes. When they return depends on what she strikes. House Speaker Bobby Harrell has said he likely won’t call a special session until mid-September, unless she vetoes items that need immediate attention.
The continuing resolution meant state workers’ paychecks Monday — their first of the new fiscal year — didn’t include the new budget’s pay increases. Their first raise in four years will be retroactive to July 1. They should see the difference in their next check, unless Haley vetoes the increases.
The budget includes a 3 percent pay increase for most state employees, though state law enforcement officers who make less than $50,000 will get a 5 percent boost. The bill also covers state employees’ rising health insurance premiums and provides $48 million to school districts specifically to increase teachers’ pay by 2 percent.
The separate measure for $100 million represents money put aside last fiscal year in case of a downturn, which wasn’t needed. Much of that money is designated to deferred maintenance projects at public colleges and technical schools.
The biggest single chunk of the reserve — $43 million — goes to the unemployment insurance trust fund, to help hold down employers’ rates. The budget designates an additional $34 million toward the tax relief. The combined $77 million represents an 11 percent savings in employers’ rates, though they’ll still see some increase. Keeping the rates as is would cost $95 million, according to the Department of Employment and Workforce.