If lawmakers uphold Gov. Nikki Haley’s veto of $2.1 million in initial money for the University of South Carolina’s new online courses, the school says it will need to scale back the program, designed to help students at two-year colleges earn bachelor’s degrees.
Haley vetoed the one-time money, 40 percent of the startup costs for USC’s new Palmetto College. USC still is slated to get $2.9 million in annual funding for the online effort.
“My veto of this item should in no way be construed as a rejection of this initiative,” Haley wrote in her veto message. “Instead, I have rejected this item because the University of South Carolina has already received significant support … and also because USC is one of only two universities that will receive more funding … this year than it did last year.”
Haley said USC should pay to start the Palmetto College with existing money. The USC system received $135 million in state money for the 2012-13 fiscal year, which started July 1. That included $18 million in “new” funding, including money for the online college and part of the cost of a new law school building.
Spokesman Wes Hickman said USC needs the extra money for the Palmetto College to pay for technology and course development so professors can learn how to teach courses online.
The program is intended to allow students at USC’s two-year campuses – in Sumter, Salkehatchie, Union and Lancaster – to earn bachelor’s degrees without having to travel to a four-year USC campus, such as in Columbia or Spartanburg.
USC sees the program, which will offer majors in high-demand fields, as a way to better compete with for-profit schools.
Programs that Palmetto College could offer when it opens in fall 2013 include organizational leadership, criminal justice, early childhood education and human resources, Hickman said.
How much USC would scale back the rollout without the $2.1 million is unclear, Hickman said. But, he added, it “would have a severe impact on our ability to fully roll out the program. We are trying to start with a comprehensive program.”
Lawmakers are scheduled to return next week to consider Haley’s 81 vetoes, which included eliminating money for two state agencies – the S.C. Arts Commission and S.C. Sea Grants Consortium.