Deja vu all over again. In the fiscal 2011 budget process, South Carolina’s former Governor Mark Sanford vetoed line item funding for the South Carolina Arts Commission, only to have his veto overridden by wide margins. History has just repeated itself. Governor Nikki Haley issued a similar line item veto yesterday, zeroing out $1.9 million in funding for the SCAC. Today, the South Carolina House overrode that veto by a vote of 105-8, and the Senate voted for override, 32-6. South Carolina will not become the second state without a state arts agency, at least not in fiscal 2012.
Governor Sanford was tainted by scandal when his veto was overriden, so some observers wondered if the SCAC was as likely to gain the 2/3rds supermajority votes required in both houses to survive Governor Haley’s veto. It wasn’t even close. It is perhaps interesting to note that FY2012 grantees were already announced, pending the outcome of the budget bill and veto process. Advocates could call their State Representatives and State Senators knowing precisely who and what they were fighting for, including approximately $250,000 in arts-in-education funding. Still, funding levels are 16% lower in this budget (which begins July 1st) than the previous one, when the SCAC received $250,000 in one-time stimulus funds, and 55% lower than in 2008. New in FY2012, the SCAC is required to spend 70% of its funding on grants.