Beaufort News

Legislature reinstates funding for Waddell, Santa Elena artifacts

Funding to renovate the Waddell Mariculture Center and to preserve Santa Elena artifacts was voted back into the state budget this week by the S.C. General Assembly.

Both appropriations had been among 76 budget vetoes issued by Gov. Nikki Haley last week, nearly all of which were overridden by legislators when they reconvened Tuesday and Wednesday.

Votes to override the pair of vetoes received overwhelming support in both the House and Senate.

With that support, the Waddell Mariculture Center will receive a $1.1 million, one-time appropriation for renovations to its facilities. The improvements will head off larger construction costs as the lab's aging facilities continue to deteriorate, center director Al Stokes has said.

Also reinstated was a $220,000 appropriation to the S.C. Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology to protect existing Santa Elena artifacts. The institute has struggled for decades to care for artifacts from the site on the southern tip of Parris Island without proper funding, Sen. Tom Davis said.

Additional funding for the University of South Carolina Beaufort, the Technical College of the Lowcountry and a proposed port in Jasper County are also part of the next state budget. That money includes an additional $121,176 in recurring appropriations and a $200,000, one-time increase USCB and $2.25 million for campus and program improvements at TCL.

"My first objective when it comes to the budget is to cut taxes and decrease spending," Davis said. "That said, once that battle is fought and the amount to be spent is defined, my priority shifts to making sure my district gets an equitable share.

"It's been a really productive session for Beaufort County," he said. "There's nothing in this year's budget that we didn't get."

Lawmakers also considered overturning Haley's veto of a $12,000-a-year pay raise for monthly legislative expenses.

Lawmakers currently are paid a $10,400 annual salary and $12,000 for in-district expenses. Legislators also receive mileage costs and $140 a day for hotel accommodations and food costs while the Legislature is session.

The House voted to overturn the veto Tuesday, but the Senate voted to sustain the veto.

Among local delegates, Rep. Weston Newton, R-Bluffton, and Sen. Chip Campsen, R-Charleston, voted against the pay raise. Davis was on leave during the Senate's vote on the veto Wednesday night but said he did not support the increase.

Rep. Bill Herbkersman, R-Bluffton; Rep. Kenneth Hodges, D-Green Pond; Rep. Bill Bowers, D-Hampton; and Sen. Clementa Pinckney, D-Ridgeland, each voted for it.

Rep. Shannon Erickson, R-Beaufort, and Rep. Andy Patrick, R-Hilton Head Island, did not vote on the veto.

However, Erickson said Wednesday she did vote no to the increase on the House's first vote on the pay increase veto. When the representatives revisited and overturned it a short time later, however, she was out of the chamber and did not get to vote on it again, she said.

The (Columbia) State staff writer Cassie Cope contributed to this report. Follow reporter Zach Murdock on Twitter at

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