South Carolina lawmakers are expected to return to Columbia this week for a special session to take action on Gov. Henry McMaster’s budget vetoes. They must weigh their decisions carefully, even for line items that seem insignificant in the larger scheme of an $8 billion budget.
Every taxpayer dollar counts.
The largest of the items under consideration — a veto of $16 million for the state Department of Health and Human Services — is also the least meaningful in many ways. Earlier this year, Mr. McMaster announced his veto as a plainly political move to block funds from Planned Parenthood.
An outcry rightly ensued, with critics pointing out that those funds help low-income South Carolina residents access crucial health care and affordable birth control. The governor backed off and asked instead that Planned Parenthood be taken off the list of state Medicaid beneficiaries.
A court injunction has so far blocked that from happening, and funds are still flowing. But legislators should nevertheless take the opportunity to stand up for an important source of affordable health care.
Lawmakers should also override vetoes that blocked funds to help staff the state Conservation Bank. A compromise reached in this year’s session saved the bank from disappearing entirely, but cut off its largest source of dedicated funding.
It’s worth pursuing a more robust version of the Conservation Bank in future sessions, but killing Mr. McMaster’s funding vetoes would allow the bank to more effectively carry out its crucial work in the short term.
The Legislature should consider overriding a veto authorizing $500,000 to go toward charities that are still helping victims of 2015 flooding and ice storms recover, with the caveat that that money should be spent making homes more resilient rather than simply repairing them.
Vetoes for millions in unaccountable funding for state institutions of higher education ought to be sustained.
So should Mr. McMaster’s decisions to block a change to state Department of Social Services policy on adopting foster children and a request to pilot medical treatments using cannabidiol (CBD) oil on state prisoners. Both are interesting proposals, but they involve complex issues that should be resolved with legislation rather than through the budget process.
The Legislature also ought to agree on a compromise to bring the state’s tax laws in line with changes to federal law that resulted from the tax bill that passed in January. Failure to do so could complicate tax filing and raise the tax burden on some South Carolina residents.
State lawmakers must work to ensure that South Carolina’s taxpayer dollars are spent responsibly. Health care and land conservation are important, productive uses of public funds. Pork and unaccountable spending are not.