Gov. McMaster vetoes money for new school buses

COLUMBIA, S.C. —Gov. Henry McMaster announced Monday that he vetoed 41 items in next year’s budget totaling $56.3 million. The biggest veto is $20.5 million for new school buses. He vetoed that because the money would come from lottery funds that may not be there–$17.5 million from any surplus the lottery might have from taking in more than expected, and $3 million in possible unclaimed prizes.

In a video message he posted online to explain his vetoes, he said, “The lottery money should be used only for scholarships for our young people because that’s what voters were promised 17 years ago.”

Lawmakers put $28.9 in the budget for new buses, which would buy or lease around 414 new school buses.

State education superintendent Molly Spearman said in a written statement, “By vetoing funding for the purchase of new school buses, the Governor is putting the safety of our students at risk. Our school bus fleet incorporates more than 1500 buses that are over 20 years old and not only are these old buses twice as expensive to operate and maintain, but they are also experiencing structural and mechanical issues. I am deeply disappointed in the decision to veto this essential funding and remain committed to working with the General Assembly to override it and ensure South Carolina’s students have a safe means of transportation to and from school.”

Members of the governor’s staff say he’s in favor of new school buses but if state lawmakers wanted to provide those they should have used budget money that’s definitely there.