Governor’s Small Biz Veto Overridden

First, the good news:

The House in action, Courtesy SCETV


The House voted Wednesday to override Governor Sanford’s Veto #14 of the Small Business Development Center’s budget and the Senate followed suit today.

The small businesses of this state greatly appreciate the House and Senate votes and send special thanks to Rep. Dwight Loftis and Rep. Anton Gunn. More about them later.

Low Profile, Major Significance
The media has so far overlooked the House vote on Veto 14 and instead has focused on the higher profile overrides that allowed funding for DHEC, technical colleges, the State Museum and others. But all of us who worked very hard to save the SBDC budget need to understand the importance of that vote because it was the first veto override the House permanently agreed to.

House Floor Play-by-Play
As the House began taking up the budget vetoes Wednesday morning, there were a lot of nervous and glum faces in the lobby, mine included. As the House voted on the electronic board, it quickly became clear that red—the color on the board indicating a vote to sustain a veto—was going to dwarf green—the color to override. Only one veto was overridden out of the first 13 but even that one was quickly reversed.

I was not optimistic.

Every sports fan knows that when your team is being routed, something needs to happen to break the momentum of the game. Most often the easiest thing to do is call a timeout and refocus the attitude of the players.
Skelton’s Word of Caution
With the House clearly in the mood to sustain Sanford’s vetoes (see The State newspaper’s blog updates from Tuesday), Representative B.R. Skelton (R-Pickens) took the podium just before Veto 11 and urged his fellow members to consider the consequences of their votes. He cautioned the body that the next several votes involved critical elements of economic development for the state.
Smith (D)

Following Mr. Skelton to the podium was Representative James Smith (D-Richland) who chastised the House for sustaining vetoes dealing with education, healthcare and clean rivers funding yet overriding a veto for money going to consultants (the House immediately reconsidered that vote and the board quickly switched to red). Mr. Smith joined Mr. Skelton in calling for more thoughtful voting.

Several more votes lit up the board to sustain and then it was time for #14. Good fortune struck. The mood was still red but the House’s attention was diverted to deal with a non-budget bill.
Veto 14 was now up for a vote.
Loftis (R)

Loftis Goes for the Green
Representative Dwight Loftis (R-Greenville) took to the podium. Mr. Loftis has been a supporter of small business, and earlier I had asked if he would have my letter arguing for keeping the funds for the SBDC placed on each member’s desk.

He not only agreed to do that but also said that he would speak in favor of an override vote. And that he did, eloquently stating the case for maintaining the budget for the only state agency providing direct and tangible services to our small businesses and entrepreneurs.

Gunn (D)

Gunning for the Override
Following Mr. Loftis to the podium was an old friend and advocate for small business, Representative Anton Gunn (D-Richland). He too cited the benefits of the SBDC telling of his own family’s use of their services.

The red spell had been broken, and the message of support for our small businesses and economic development took hold. Green lit up the board 102 times to only 15 reds—an amazing turnaround (just look at blogger Brad Warthen’s exchange with House Majority leader Kenny Bingham on June 13, 2010.)

A Shift in Momentum
Sure, the House sustained many more vetoes (see FitsNews) after that crucial vote. But the momentum had been altered. It was OK to push green when merited. Lighting did not strike. No electric shock came with pressing the button. Even GOP Gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley voted green with us.

It was clear that not every Sanford veto was justified. The Governor had made errors in judgment and the House not only had the power, it had the responsibility for the good of the State to say so. And it did.

Thanks to all who contacted their House and Senate members asking for an override of Veto #14. All the efforts paid off.
And thanks to the members of the Legislature for doing the right thing.
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