Georgetown County school funding veto stands

Gov. Mark Sanford's veto of a bill that would have allowed the Georgetown County School District to borrow money in the 2010-2011 school year for operating expenses will stand.

The votes of two local senators canceled each other out on Wednesday, failing to override Sanford's veto. In the case of a local bill, only local senators are required to vote.

In this case, Sen. Ray Cleary, R-Murrells Inlet, voted against the override, and Sen. Yancey McGill, D-Kingstree, voted for it.

Cleary said he voted against the bill because the district will be able to balance the upcoming year's budget without having to borrow the money.

He said the district might want to save their bonding ability for the 2011-2012 year when the state will face a $1.2 billion shortfall.

State Reps. Vida Miller, D-Pawleys Island, and Carl Anderson, D-Georgetown, introduced the bill. It was designed to be used only in case of emergency in case the state unleashed more cuts while the General Assembly was out of session.

In South Carolina, school districts are limited in their ability to raise funds. Under Act 388, districts cannot collect property taxes on owner-occupied homes for day-to-day operational expenses like teacher salaries and textbooks.

The state provides funding to the schools with sales tax for operating expenses.

The Georgetown County School Board decided Tuesday night to cut 17 jobs and eliminate some teacher incentives such as tuition reimbursement. They also voted to eliminate the teacher resource center to balance the budget.

If the state comes back with more cuts, the district could be forced to increase class sizes, dip further into its reserve fund, furlough employees and eliminate supplements for National Board Certified Teachers.

Sanford vetoed the bill April 26, saying it was not wise for the district to used long-term debt to pay for short-term expenses, according to a statement released by his office.