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WHERE IS THE “LIMITED GOVERNMENT” WE HEARD SO MUCH ABOUT ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL?

S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley issued seventy-four budget vetoes totaling less than $60 million – or one quarter of one percent of the state’s $23 billion budget.

Believe it or not, that’s not a typo – the Palmetto State’s “Tea Party” governor (who ran on a platform of limited government) signed off on nearly every penny of the largest budget in South Carolina history, limiting her veto pen to a handful of small-dollar pork projects. In fact the governor left untouched millions of dollars in funding that she previously vowed to eliminate – including funding for S.C. Educational Television (SCETV).

A year ago, Haley issued thirty-five vetoes totaling $213 million – less than one percent of that year’s $22.1 billion spending plan.

“If you consider one-fourth of one percent of $23 billion aggressive, then I guess that’s aggressive,” S.C. Sen. Kevin Bryant told FITS. “That number doesn’t sound aggressive to me.”

By contrast, former S.C. Gov. Mark Sanford issued over 100 vetoes totaling $361 million in his final year in office. Prior to her first round of budget vetoes in 2011, S.C. Sen. Tom Davis – one of the leading fiscal conservatives in the S.C. General Assembly – said that he hoped Haley would veto between $400-500 million of the previous year’s spending plan.

“Four hundred million – that would have been nice,” Bryant said.

Unfortunately, Haley hasn’t come close to hitting that total in multiple years – vetoing a modest $273 million out of $45 billion in state spending over her first two years in office.

Haley’s ongoing abdication of her fiduciary responsibility to the taxpayers of this state is sad … but not surprising. In January, she proposed a $22.8 billion executive budget – the largest spending plan in state history at the time. In light of the government growth endorsed in that proposal ($900 million by Haley’s count) is it any surprise that she took a pass on lawmakers’ version of the budget?

Of course not …

How will Haley’s vetoes fare in the S.C. General Assembly?

That remains to be seen. A year ago, lawmakers angrily overrode her vetoes – alleging that Haley misled them on her intentions regarding specific spending items.

UPDATE: Haley’s office is saying that it vetoed nearly $70 million, not $60 million.

NIKKI HALEY’S FY 2011-12 BUDGET VETOES

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