Sen. Vernon Stephens says he’s working to override the governor’s veto of money for two projects serving the area: a tutoring program and a local TV station.

“We’re having a conversation with House members and getting them to understand why I have asked for these to be funded and their benefit to the community,” the Bowman Democrat said Tuesday.

Gov. Henry McMaster, a Republican, announced several vetoes to local projects across South Carolina that were included in the state’s $13 billion budget.

McMaster vetoed $300,000 for the S.C. Retired Educators Academic Tutorial Service Inc., which he said bypassed the state’s procurement and grants process.

The non-profit is providing math and reading tutoring to 15 students this year. It previously announced it was serving students at several Orangeburg County schools.

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The governor noted the state budget already includes $15 million for “high-intensity” tutoring. Also, the state’s districts still have a total of $1.5 billion left in federal COVID money, and some of that money is specifically set aside to make up for lost instructional time.

The non-profit S.C. Retired Educators Academic Tutorial Service Inc., whose primary contact is a current state employee, should seek a grant or funding through a local district instead of through a state budget earmark, McMaster said.

Stephens said he was disappointed by the veto. He sought the funds to expand the tutoring program into Dorchester County.

Creativity is needed to reach students who aren’t getting what they need in a traditional classroom setting, he said. And he believes the program has helped students.

“There was remarkable growth in their academic improvement,” Stephens said.

The governor vetoed $200,000 for the effort on 2021, but lawmakers overrode that veto.

This year, McMaster also vetoed $250,000 for the New Perspectives Media Local Television Partnership. The money was set aside to start up a local broadcast cable television station.

“The stated purpose is to provide television coverage of athletic events at S.C. State University, Voorhees University and Claflin University, as well as high school athletic events in Orangeburg, Bamberg and Calhoun counties,” McMaster’s veto message said.

“This is not an appropriate use of state funds,” it said.

Instead, McMaster suggests the community contact S.C. Educational Television if it wants coverage of local games.

A local television channel would provide an opportunity to highlight local athletes, Stephens said. It would also provide a place for journalism students at local colleges to receive training.

Contact the writer: or 803-533-5570.

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