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A Veto 38 Post Mortum

The General Assembly reconvened this past Wednesday to consider Gov. Henry McMaster’s line-item budget vetoes. There were 42 to vote on and you may read them in detail here.

One of the more controversial vetoes was Veto 38. The Governor objected to the budget line that funded the creation of an education data warehouse. The Governor expressed concern that the personal data of South Carolinians would be put at risk for no good reason. I agree with him completely.

Having served on the House Education Committee for a few years now and noting that the budget line dealt specifically with the creation of an education data warehouse, I researched the background of this budget line before the vote yesterday.

The budget proviso was to create a central data collection center that would store and transmit South Carolina student data to the federal Department of Education (DOE). The feds require the states to provide this data in exchange for federal funding under the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins). The funding goes to students from middle school to tech school. Perkins grants were first authorized in 1984 and have been reauthorized four times including the most recent in July 2018. South Carolina students have received and are currently receiving Perkins grants.

What conclusion relevant to the veto can be gleaned from this information? South Carolina state government already provides DOE with the student’s detailed personal data. The data warehouse was to make the collection and transmission of the data more efficient. Gov. McMaster was still correct to veto it for bigger reasons.

As an unreconstructed conservative, I still have a fundamental problem with the feds dallying with South Carolina’s educational system. The federal government’s extortion of our student data in exchange for Perkins grants is but another symptom of the vast overreach by the feds into every facet of our lives.

While the vetoes were being debated, I reflected on those times in our history when our General Assembly traded power to the feds for easier access to the federal money trough. Democrats were running the Statehouse then so maybe the hooks did not feel as sharp. FDR’s New Deal programs and LBJ’s Great Society came to mind as I voted to sustain Gov. McMaster’s veto on funds to preserve historic buildings and promote children’s theaters – worthy causes indeed but worthy of private donations.

Republicans control the South Carolina General Assembly. Republicans also control Congress, yet I never hear that Congress has passed a budget cutting any of those old Great Society programs that give federal matching dollars to the states. You know, federal programs that grant funds for historic building preservation, children theaters and Planned Parenthood.

Planned Parenthood still receives federally sourced funds to work in our state in spite of state Republican efforts, both in the Legislature and the Governor’s office, to run them out. Planned Parenthood remains here because of our Republican controlled Congress. Remember that the next time a Republican member of our congressional delegation talks about his conservative credentials.

For those wondering what happened to Veto 38, it was sustained. Gov. McMaster was right to veto it not just because of the education data warehouse but for the fundamental fact that the federal government thought they are owed it.