The sister of late state Rep. Joe Neal urged S.C. residents Tuesday to push their lawmakers to override a veto by Gov. Henry McMaster of $800,000 for the SC HIV AIDS Council.
“Call each one and tell them you expect them to override the governor’s veto,” said Wilma Neal Garren. “Do it for Joseph.”
Neal, a State House advocate for HIV and AIDS treatment and prevention, died earlier this year. In his honor, the AIDS Council said Tuesday it has a new name: the Joseph H. Neal Wellness Center.
The vetoed money would have paid for an evening clinic to offer free testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections, said the council’s Bambi Gaddist, adding the money’s loss was devastating.
McMaster vetoed $4.9 million in the state Department of Health and Human Services’ budget for medical contracts, including the money for the AIDS Council.
In his veto message, McMaster said he targeted the money because it was “a collection of earmarks, many unidentifiable, included with legislative projects of differing merit, purpose, and relevance to agency missions.”
McMaster added “the many projects contained in these items were not put before the public to stand on their own merits” and urged lawmakers to list the items individually for transparency.
Normally, lawmakers return to Columbia after their regular session ends to consider any vetoes by the governor. But they did not this year. As a result, they now plan to sustain or overturn McMaster’s vetoes when they return for a new session in January.
However, they could return earlier to address the abandonment of two nuclear reactors in Fairfield County. If that happens, lawmakers could take up McMaster’s veto then.
“As taxpayers, we should want to control the increased spread” of AIDS, Gaddist said, noting drugs now exist to prevent HIV. “That’s to the taxpayers’ benefit.”