The leader of the state Senate wants legislators to return to Columbia to override Gov. Henry McMaster’s veto of money to replace school buses that are fire hazards.
“The horror of horrors would be for a bus loaded with children to catch on fire and the children not be able to get out,” Senate President Pro Tempore Hugh Leatherman, R-Florence, said in a statement Thursday. “Today, I am calling for the Legislature to return as soon as possible to override this veto.”
But S.C. House Speaker Jay Lucas, R-Darlington, must agree before legislators can restore the money to the state budget. House members must override the veto before the Senate could consider it. And Lucas isn’t interested in returning to Columbia.
Lucas’ office said the speaker stood by his July statement that the state Department of Education could use other money that it has to pay for the buses and returning to Columbia would be a waste of taxpayer money.
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McMaster cut $20.5 million for new school buses from the state budget. That money was from the state lottery, McMaster noted. While lottery money often is spent on other education expenses, it should be spent solely on the scholarships that the lottery was created to fund, he added.
The money would have allowed the Education Department to buy 298 buses and lease another 116, according to the agency. Buying a school bus costs about $80,000.
“The money to buy new school buses has been certified and is available,” Leatherman said. “The only thing standing in the way is the return of the Legislature to Columbia.”