Gov. Henry McMaster announced his line-item budget vetoes on Wednesday, including two Orangeburg County projects.

He vetoed $7 million for a cultural welcome center in Orangeburg and $2 million for a west Orangeburg community center.

Overall, the governor’s 73 vetoes total over $52.6 million, according to a press release from McMaster’s office.

“State government is in the best fiscal shape ever. We have the largest budget surplus, the largest rainy day reserve fund and the lowest debt — ever — in the history of our state,” McMaster said in his veto message.

“Last year, we broke over a decade’s worth of records — for new job recruitment and capital investment. We’ve cut taxes on our small businesses, and we have returned money back to the taxpayers,” he said. “Over the last five years, our successful partnership has produced resounding win after win for the people and prosperity of South Carolina. This fiscal year’s budget includes a record number — (259) — of my Executive Budget proposals totaling $2.85 billion — an increase of 93 from last year.”

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McMaster’s message said he vetoed the $7 million for the cultural center because “Insufficient information has been provided to my office concerning this earmark.

“As such, it is questionable whether $7 million in taxpayer funds should be spent on a cultural welcome center in Orangeburg that has no demonstrated need or community support.”

Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter, D-Orangeburg, said she will work to have the veto overridden when lawmakers return to Columbia.

“What that project is attempting to do is utilize cultural resources as an economic driver,” and promote cultural tourism, she said.

South Carolina has other cultural centers beyond Charleston, Columbia and Greenville, she said.

Cobb-Hunter disagreed with the governor’s assessment of the project.

“I assure you there is support and there is a demonstrated need and I will move forward to make sure that project materializes,” she said.

Cobb-Hunter would not provide more specific information about the project because it’s still in the development phase, but she said her track record shows she’s a good steward of taxpayer dollars.

The $2 million for the west Orangeburg community center was among the projects McMaster said he vetoed because “I did not have enough information to determine whether it was a worthy investment of state taxpayer dollars.”

McMaster also vetoed $1 in the budget for Bamberg County Airport improvements, saying it was among budget items that are no longer necessary after the House and Senate worked out a final budget compromise.

Sen. Brad Hutto, D-Orangeburg, noted that $5 million in Savannah River Site settlement money had been set aside for the airport.

But then McMaster approved spending the money for school indebtedness reduction, instead of the airport.

“Bamberg still getting the money allocated to them, it’s just for another purpose,” Hutto said.

Hutto also noted that McMaster did not veto millions going to The T&D Region, including for South Carolina State University, Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College, economic development projects and roads.

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