The clock is officially ticking for S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley …
South Carolina’s new chief executive has until Tuesday evening at midnight to make a decision regarding the controversial Amazon.com incentive deal that has dominated her first legislative session as governor.
The bill – which grants the online retailer a “safe harbor” from collecting sales tax on South Carolina purchases – officially landed on Haley’s desk late Wednesday after clearing both the S.C. House and the State Senate.
Haley has repeatedly said she opposes the deal – even as her Commerce Secretary Bobby Hitt aggressively lobbied state lawmakers in support of the legislation, which is aimed at luring between 1,300-2000 mostly low-paying positions to Lexington County, S.C.
“I knew it was bad policy,” Haley said in late April after the S.C. House initially rejected the deal. “By allowing Amazon to get a tax break, when you are not giving it to any other business in our state – destroys what I am saying and immediately disputes everything that we say South Carolina is.”
We agree. And if that’s how Haley really feels then she should veto this legislation – as she is being encouraged to do by leaders of the S.C. Tea Party.
But Haley’s not going to do that – as we exclusively reported nearly three months ago.
Nor is she going to sign the bill.
What is she going to do? Nothing.
After being copied and bound in the bill room of the S.C. State House late Wednesday, this legislation now sits on Haley’s desk in mute testimony to her glaring abdication of executive responsibility – waiting for a signature that is never going to come.
If Haley refuses to take any action on the bill between now and midnight Tuesday – as she has pledged to do up to this point in this months-long debate – the tax break will become law without her signature.
One South Carolina Tea Party leader has blasted Haley’s conflicted position on the legislation as “one of the worst examples of leadership I have ever witnessed.”
He’s right …
Haley tried to pander to her Tea Party base by publicly opposing this legislation. She also tried to pander to supporters of the deal by promising not to veto it – and by permitting her Commerce Department to push for its passage.
That’s not leadership – that’s trying to play both sides of an issue.
If Haley really opposed the Amazon tax break, then five simple words would have stopped it in its tracks:
“I will veto this bill.”
Haley never said that, though- and now she has to sit and wait for five days (excluding Sunday) as this vivid reminder of her own lack of conviction stares back up at her.
If Haley supports the Amazon deal, she should sign this legislation (even if she decides against holding a pep rally-style ceremony). If she opposes it, she should veto the bill.
Anything else is cowardice …