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Haley Opposition To SCSU Funding Viewed As Dangerous
Published:
12/17/2014 4:03:25 PM


South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley
 

South Carolina Representative Wendell Gilliard
 
Staff Reports

  
Last week South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley vehemently opposed S.C. Budget and Control Board approval of a recommended $12 million appropriation to South Carolina State University needed to help the institution meet its financial obligations. Haley said she opposed the appropriation because the university has not demonstrated fiscal responsibility. Others say Haley’s opposition is characteristic of a state government that historically has not supported SCSU, the state’s only publicly supported Black institution of higher learning.
 
SCSU President Thomas Elzey in April asked the legislature to appropriate about $13 million to the university so it could pay off some long standing bills. The legislature loaned SCSU about $7 million with some constrictions. Elzey returned to the legislature about two months ago to request another $12 million. December 8 the Budget and Control Board approved the loan despite objections from Haley.
 
One source said SCSU is caught between a rock and hard place. Since its 1896 establishment as a land grant institution to educate Blacks, the institution never has received the full support of state government. Instead, like most other institutions serving Blacks, it has been marginalized.
 
But despite that marginalization, the institution has thrived as  an education resource for Blacks producing world-class leaders in every field of endeavor. But in the past few decades the decadence that permeated much of society seeped into the administration of the school as well producing a culture of corruption that has led to its fiscal demise.
 
A source said in the past the state’s predominantly white legislature turned a blind eye to fiscal mismanagement at SCSU allowing Blacks who administered the school to literally turn the institution into a money pit many used for personal gain. But in today’s ultraconservative political climate that’s changed.
 
“There’s a lot of resentment in the legislature about SCSU receiving that money,” the source said. “And there seems to be some sort of jockeying going on between Gov. Haley and Sen. Hugh Leatherman,” the source intimated. Leatherman is the powerful Florence Republican tapped to head an oversight committee appointed to SCSU. Although Leatherman has supported initiatives to fund SCSU, constrictions on that support continue the institution’s marginalization, the source said.
 
Under the appropriations arrangement SCSU will receive the funding in annual increments over the next three years. In the meantime, its past due bills are ongoing. And those incremental installments will be made only if the institution has a balanced budget, the source noted.
 
Both factions appear to be working to the university’s detriment, the source said. “After SCSU gets its first installment early in 2015, it will be right back in the same position where it has to beg for more money.”
 
Quoted in a recent news report, Six Dist. U.S. Cong. James Clyburn predicted in three years SCSU may be taken over by one of the state’s larger universities. Charleston’s S.C. House Rep. Wendell Gilliard agreed.
 
“If the university needed $12 million eight months ago, the money should have been given then. This incremental thing is just a slow death. It’s forcing their vendors to continue holding on,” Gilliard said.

Haley’s opposition to any appropriations at this point continues the state’s marginalization of SCSU, but it also boosts her credibility with ultraconservative Tea Party factions, Gilliard aid.
 
“This is Haley’s last term. She didn’t want to support funding SCSU from the start. State government has demonstrated time and again it won’t adequately fund South Carolina State University. Now Haley can do anything she wants without fear of any political repercussions. She’s dangerous now,” he said.
 
Hollywood Rep. Robert Brown said he was both surprised and disappointed Haley opposed the funding to SCSU. “I assumed that after the blue ribbon committee was appointed and the school’s administration made so many cuts in the budget, the governor would get behind SCSU. I hope this isn’t some strategy to take it over, but when our government doesn't support its only historically Black public university, there is that possibility,” he said.
 

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