Tourism escapes Haley's budget vetoes

Chambers of commerce can get up to 8 million dollars for out of state tourism promotion, thanks to a line in this year's budget.

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WPDE) - Money for tourism promotion statewide escaped Gov. Nikki Haley's 81 vetoes of the Legislature's spending plans Friday. That is good news for the Grand Strand, whose main industry is tourism.

"We were thrilled that (the governor) and the General Assembly agreed there's no better time to invest in tourism in South Carolina," says Brad Dean, President of the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce.

It's also good news for smaller communities, and cities inland in the Pee Dee.

The state budget includes eight million dollars to be used for out of state, new tourism advertising. This money comes with a catch, though, it's part of a public private partnership, so for every dollar the state gives a community, local chambers and other organizations will have to contribute two dollars in contributions from local businesses.

This is the first time any money comes with an ongoing commitment to fund tourism promotion. Before, it was year to year as to whether it would be funded.

Haley's vetoes Friday removed funding that included more than $10 million to support teacher pay raises, $300,000 for a North Myrtle Beach historical museum, and $100,000 for a fire station in Andrews. They also included vetos that wipe out the state Arts Commission and designate less money to a Commerce fund for closing economic development deals.

Haley's vetoes remove $67.5 million. They include 74 items in the Legislature's $6.7 billion budget and seven items in a separate bill spending $100 million from a rainy-day account that wasn't needed.

Haley on Friday chastised legislators for what she called government waste on local projects. She says they should feel embarrassed and voters should be infuriated, "We have to start looking at South Carolina as a business plan and in order to do that its not about getting through one year. It's what we want her to look like in years three and five and seven and how we want her to look when she grows up."

House Speaker Bobby Harrell is calling legislators back July 17 to consider veto overrides.