For over thirty years, not only has South Carolina been the first southern state to hold a primary for presidential elections, but the winner of the primary has also been the party’s nominee in November. There is a good likelihood that that will change next year. Right now, the budget proposal on Governor Nikki Haley’s desk is expected to be vetoed by her. If she does so, the state will not be able to appropriate funds to pay for the Republican primary, and will hold a caucus in its stead. As well, the state will lose the funds from all of the campaign volunteers and media mavens who typically spend upwards of a month in the state. The state will also find its national exposure greatly reduced as the first southern primary would move to Florida.

671px NikkiHaley

Haley is expected to veto a number of items besides the primary funding. She is also expected to eliminate the $56 million the legislature has added to the budget for increased K-12 spending. Apparently, it is common in South Carolina to line-item veto funding, and then the legislature routinely overrides the veto. This year, though, a coalition of Tea Party Republicans and Democrats voted against the budget, so it only passed in the House by three votes. So it is unlikely that any veto could be overridden.

When Haley was negotiating with the legislature, she recommended that the state only fund necessary obligations, and conspicuously asserted that the primary did not meet this requirement. Right now, the state is expected to have a $800 million shortfall. Virtually all states have a budget problem, either because of the economic stagnation or because they had previously received federal stimulus dollars that are no longer available to supplement their regular funds. Because of a federal law passed in 2008, states like South Carolina are required to use electronic voting machines and to pay poll workers. Thus, the primary has an increased cost over previous cycles that Haley claims the state cannot afford.

Once again, it appears that it’s up to Arriba to solve this problem. Have the legislature shuffle the $2 million from other programs to the primary. Then, calculate how much was spent on tourism industries this January and February, and how many tax dollars were received from these sources. Then, next year do the same thing. If there is less than $2 million extra next year, then proportionally reduce the other programs.