Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Brown reports on session, thanks teachers for calling

In an column published in the Herald Independent, Rep. Boyd Brown offers his perspectives on Governor Nikki Haley's recent vetoes of funding for public schools, South Carolina Educational Television and other state services, as well as his thoughts on the "privilege" of voting to override those vetoes.

Also in the time since my last Update, the Governor vetoed 34 items in the state budget, including, but not limited to: law enforcement, economic development, K-12 education, the arts, agricultural research, conservation, S.C. Educational Television and rural health care. Out of those 34 vetoes, the S.C. House of Representatives overrode 27 of them.

While the Governor touted her vetoes as budget-balancing proposals, we passed a balanced budget, per state law, which funds all of those programs. Also, it should be noted that in all, the Governor’s vetoes amounted to a small amount of the State Budget, and were political maneuvers, shunned by even the Republican-controlled Legislature. In essence, her cuts would have been equivalent to taking half a pepperoni off of a large pizza.

With that said, it was a privilege to override her vetoes, which blatantly targeted rural areas such as Fairfield County. She tried to cut rural health, which would have reduced the number of primary care physicians in places like Ridgeway and Jenkinsville.

Then she tried to cut S.C. ETV, which does much more than just broadcast, as she put it, “Big Bird.” ETV trains law enforcement officials to use a statewide alert system like the Amber Alert, it broadcasts the General Assembly while we’re in session, keeping us transparent, and it uses its satellite system to go into schools and provide educational programs to students. We’re lucky to have this program, touted year after year as one of the best public broadcast systems in the United States.

While she was at it, she cut agricultural research, which would have eliminated the Clemson Extension Service. She tried to strip money from the Department of Commerce, the agency that recruits jobs to South Carolina, and is headed up by Fairfield’s own, Secretary Bobby Hitt.

Honestly folks, I was blown away by the Governor’s idea of governing. We had cut the fat out of the budget, we have watched state agencies layoff hundreds upon hundreds of workers, and the Governor wanted us to eliminate entire programs, even though we had written a balanced budget. It was unbelievable.

I would also like to thank those who have emailed or phoned me in regards to the budget vetoes. Whether you’re a librarian supporting ETV, a Trooper supporting law enforcement, a teacher supporting K-12 education or a farmer supporting Clemson Extension, the Statehouse heard you loud and clear! It was your persistence that beat back these cuts to your essential programs.

Here's one lawmaker who appreciates hearing from educators.

Educators, let's welcome and accept Brown's invitation to share our views on state priorities.

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