One of Gov. Nikki Haley’s 81 budget vetoes hit close to home when she denied funding Friday for the North Myrtle Beach Historical Museum.
The governor said no to $300,000 for the new museum, along with vetoes for other historical projects, saying the move ended a return to pork barrel spending.
Haley’s decision caught some museum supporters off guard, but legislators said they remain hopeful that the veto will be overturned.
“I’m in shock,” said Jenean Todd, museum director, upon hearing about the veto. “We were hoping to use the funds to work to develop our new exhibits to generate more visitation in the area and educate people about northeastern South Carolina.”
The museum, which Todd said has yet to open, is housed in a former library building, which was given by the city of North Myrtle Beach. She said the building, which is from 1982, needed a lot of work, and that the museum’s last funds were used for renovations to bring the building up to code and make it handicapped accessible.
Sen. Dick Elliott, D-North Myrtle Beach, said he also was surprised at the move, but he believes the decision can be reversed.
“A lot of people now don’t believe in the governor giving out money … but those project dollars are very meaningful for local communities,” Elliott said. “They’re disappointed, and I’m disappointed. It depends on what the House does, but if it gets to the Senate, I’m quite sure we can override it.”
Rep. Tracy Edge, R-North Myrtle Beach, said he had tried to head off the governor before the vetoes and was unhappy that he didn’t hear back from her office, but her veto “wasn’t entirely unexpected.”
“She has been against anything in relation to Horry County within the past year; it seems it’s just not in her program,” Edge said. “She doesn’t understand tourism or a tourism economy, and tourism is our manufacturing, but we get no support from the governor’s office whatsoever.”
Edge said the vetoes are not an issue of spending, as they represent less than half of 1 percent of the budget, and that he thinks there will be support for overriding many, if not all, of them. He said Horry County has good support in the Legislature itself and has overcome a series of vetoes in the past for projects such as Interstate 73, Interstate 74, beach renourishment and dredging at Cherry Grove.
Edge said $575,000 of state funding from 2005 and 2008 has gotten the museum to where it is, and he will argue it is “senseless not to complete the project.”
“It is incumbent upon us to work for it,” Edge said. “The museum is geared to tourists as well as locals, and that’s part of reason we were able to get money before now.”
The museum’s director said the community has been wonderful about donating artifacts, and that the museum will tell the story not only of the local community, but of the growth of tourism.
“I have had lots of calls this summer from Illinois, Arkansas, Texas – and those are the states I remember – and everybody is just very excited about having a history museum on the Grand Strand,” Todd said. “We are a cost-effective resource.”
Contact VICKI GROOMS at 443-2401 or follow her at Twitter.com/TSN_VickiGrooms.