COLUMBIA -- The table is set for the South Carolina Legislature’s final month of the 2016 session--any bills that may become laws have crossed over to the opposite chamber this week and Senate budget deliberations will start Tuesday.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Hugh Leatherman, R-Florence, told senators Thursday he expects deliberations on the $7.5 billion budget to take one week instead of the typical two weeks.
“My intent is to finish the appropriation bill next week, so you may want to come with a clean shirt,” Leatherman said. ”I hope Friday or before we finish the budget.”
If not, Leatherman said the Senate would need to return on Friday and possibly Confederate Memorial day--a scheduled day off--on Tuesday, May 10.
Before his budget briefing on the Senate floor, Leatherman reminded the body that it would be the first time in more than a decade that the late Sen. Billy O’Dell and Sen. Clementa Pinckney wouldn’t be part of the debate. Pinckney was one of nine church members slain in a racially motivated shooting at his Emanuel AME Church in Charleston last June. O’Dell died of complications from a related heart condition days before the legislative session began in January.
“I know you all remember those circumstances and it is a somber moment,” Leatherman said. “We miss both of those voices, they were voices of reason and they were strong advocates for their constituents and the state of South Carolina. They set a strong example of statesmanship for the rest of us.”
Once the budget is approved by the Senate it returns to the House, which usually amends it leading to a conference committee. There several senators and representatives hash out a compromise on the budget and send it for approval from both chambers. It’s ratified and sent to Gov. Nikki Haley. She has five days, Sunday excluded, to veto parts of the budget and return it to the House. In order to override any vetoes by the governor a two-thirds vote of present and voting members is required in both bodies.
“The budget is a work of compromise,” Leatherman said. “This takes a huge step in addressing the critical needs of our state.”
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