Published July 19, 2012
The South Carolina Department of Commerce will have an additional $10 million to use in deal-closing negotiations with new businesses after the General Assembly voted to override Gov. Nikki Haley’s veto of the measure.
The money was from South Carolina’s $31 million share of a national mortgage settlement. Haley vetoed the appropriation, suggesting the money was meant to help people who lost their homes or were in danger of losing their homes.
“I consider it inappropriate to raid the proceeds of the national mortgage settlement in order to generate more resources for the closing fund,” Haley said in her veto message. Haley said the closing fund will have $15 million in it without the $10 million from the mortgage settlement.
Sen. John Scott, D-Columbia, agreed with the governor, saying it’s not right to spend the money on anything other than helping people who lost their homes.
Sen. Hugh Leatherman, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, disagreed.
“I’m saying to the Senate, we need to put as much money as we can into the closing fund to bring companies and jobs into the state,” Leatherman said.
The first vote, 27-14, was one vote short of achieving the two-thirds majority to override a veto. But some senators were on the fence.
“I’m just not sure what is the right vote,” said Sen. Jake Knotts, R-West Columbia.
“I think this is one of the better investments we have in this budget,” said Sen. Greg Ryberg, R-Aiken, who argued that arming the Commerce Department to create more jobs is the Legislature’s No. 1 job.
Some argued that earmarking the money for job creation was serving the greater good.
Sen. Chip Campsen, R-Charleston, said he believes the money should go to people who lost their homes in the mortgage crisis. But he added that he could not conceive of a process that would equitably achieve that goal.
“The next best solution is to come up with a solution that lifts all boats,” Campsen said, such as spending the money on economic development.
After a vote to reconsider the decision, and an emotional debate, the senators voted 28-13 to override the governor’s veto.