debt bill defeated

It was a small victory on Tuesday 06.21.11 for fiscal sanity on what should have been a no brainer. There are three identical local bills on the Senate Calendar: S. 877 (Hampton 2), H. 4149 (Colleton), & S. 785 (Florence 4).

These bills allow school districts to issue bonds to meet day-to-day operation expenses. I blogged about this reckless, irresponsible practice here. Gov. Haley rightfully vetoed all these bills, stressing the recklessness of putting the taxpayer on the hook for debt to pay the light bill and such. Vetoes require a 2/3 vote to over ride.

S. 785 was taken up today. The vote wasn’t even close. Ayes (over ride) 17; Nays (sustain) 18; Present 9

AYES – 17: Anderson, Coleman, Elliott, Ford, Hutto, Jackson, Knotts, Land, Leventis, Lourie, Matthews, McGill, Nicholson, Pinckney, Reese, Scott, Williams

NAYS – 18: Bright, Bryant, Campbell, Campsen, Cleary, Courson, Davis, Fair, Gregory, Grooms, Martin (Shane), Massey, Peeler, Rose, Ryberg, Shoopman, Thomas, Verdin

PRESENT – 9 Alexander, Hayes, Malloy, Martin (Larry), McConnell, O’Dell, Rankin, Setzler, Sheheen

Here’s the Journal Statement of those voting present: Statement by Senators McCONNELL, LARRY MARTIN, O’DELL, HAYES and ALEXANDER We very reluctantly voted “present” on the question of whether to override the Governor’s veto on a Bill that would allow a school district to issue bonds to cover operating deficits from a prior fiscal year. The Bill also states that the General Assembly makes findings regarding the need to issue these bonds.

Since the General Assembly made no such findings and since we believe that issuing debt to pay for a deficit is a bad policy, we would have liked to have voted to sustain the veto.

However, there are two lawsuits currently pending on how to handle these very types of school Bills. Until the Supreme Court has ruled and the General Assembly has an opportunity to address the manner in which we deal with school district Bills, we voted “present” to allow the tradition and courtesy of the Senate to continue.

This process must change and it is our hope that these vetoes will be the impetus for that change.