Haley’s Omit


Obviously, because the state of South Carolina is doing so super awesome in every possible cultural way, they certainly don’t need an arts commission.

Ed Ruscha, OOF, 1962-63

Republican (quelle surprise) Governor Nikki Haley zeroed out the budget for that state’s art commission (among other agencies) last week. Zeroed out, as in the staff needn’t bother coming in to work anymore.

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In addition to cancelling the arts commission, Haley’s more than 80 other vetoes included pay raises for teachers, money for several schools, AIDS drug assistance and a grant to the SC Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault.

The governor, demonstrating that she’s not 100% clear on the meaning of the word “responsible,” said at a press conference:

I would rather give this money to the taxpayers and let them decide which charities they are going to give money to than to allow the Legislature to decide which arts, which charities, which programs they are going to give it to. It’s the responsible thing to do.

This tired canard about giving the money back to the taxpayers so they can choose which arts programs to support is really exasperating. And ought to be embarrassing for Haley and her supporters. Although, if the last 20 years have taught us anything, it’s that Republicans in America are tragically unable to feel embarrassment or shame.

Of course this veto by the governor ignores the fact that the creative economy around the country is an amazing and successful economic stimulus, delivering enormous returns on relatively small investments. South Carolina is no exception. Ken May, Executive Director of the South Carolina Arts Commission, said that the $2 million the governor stripped from his agency led to $80 million in matching funds for the state’s arts last year. That is to say, it paid for itself 40 times over.

But that can hardly compete with Governor Haley’s craven posturing and spurious rhetoric about the taxpayers’ ability to manage that kind of investment individually.

There is still hope for the veto to be overturned by the legislature, which they did when Haley tried to pull the same foolishness last year. But the arts commission will be closed for at least a few weeks until that might or might not happen.

And that’s why you don’t give red state governors a line-item veto.