One of the most interesting aspects of Gov. Nikki Haley’s veto of the South Carolina Arts Commission’s entire budget also seems to be one of the least reported. According to commission officials, the governor’s rationale for the veto is based on a false assumption about the organization’s funding levels:
Haley had criticized the Arts Commission, saying that 30 percent of its costs were for administration and overhead. However, the Commission’s director Ken May said that was a misinterpretation of the budget. The number comes from a budget proviso that requires the agency to spend 70 percent of its funds on grants and programs. May said the commission spends much more than that.
[Rep. Joel] Lourie slammed Haley for those numbers, “I would ask the governor this: did she come meet with the Arts Commission staff? Does she understand… that what she says in her veto message is absolutely, factually-proven not to be true?”
Gov. Haley, who is on
summer vacation an economic development trip to the London Air Show, could not be reached to find out for sure. But it looks like the Arts Commission veto isn’t the only one where the governor’s staff didn’t do their homework.
Haley also vetoed $2.8 million destined for technology services in the state’s courts, according to the Charleston Post & Courier’s Stephen Largen. State Supreme Court Chief Justice Jean Toal told the Post that the veto is obviously the result of “some incorrect work by her staff or incorrect information.”
Toal said the Judicial Department and the 40 of 46 counties that use the state’s case management system to store and access records depend on the line of funding Haley axed to keep the system going. Without it, courts could grind to a halt, Toal said.
When Haley struck the funding late last week, she said in her veto message that fees lawmakers authorized the Judicial Department to charge for use of a new statewide electronic filing system should cover the cost of the agency’s IT expenses.
Toal said there’s a big problem with that thinking — the new filing system won’t launch and won’t bring in any revenue for at least another 18 months. “I think I could have cleared up the issue … if I had I been asked about this,” she said.
Haley spokesman Rob Godfrey was full of his trademark snark in defending his boss’ missteps. “In her effort to be a responsible steward of tax dollars, [the governor] always seems to disappoint some folks around Columbia,” Godfrey quipped. Although it should be pointed out that if the nationwide reaction to Haley’s vetoes of funding for arts and rape crisis centers is any indication, she’s disappointing a lot more than just a few people in Columbia.
Either way, this is the second of the governor’s vetoes (that we know of) based on incorrect assumptions that might easily have been cleared up. And because the governor’s office submitted the list of vetoes just minutes before last week’s midnight deadline, the whole thing is reminiscent of a student waiting to complete a term paper until the night before it’s due, then complaining when given a low grade for the slipshod work.
The pattern now begs the question… what other policies has Haley advocated that are based on faulty information?