S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley is praised by the national GOP establishment as a “strong conservative.” Meanwhile national Democrats derisively refer to her as a “Tea Party Governor,” a nod to the wave election that (narrowly) ushered her into office in 2010.

But is Haley either of those things? Not according to the dollars and cents …

As FITS readers will recall, last year Haley vetoed barely $100 million out of a $22.7 billion budget – or less than one half of one percent of the state’s total spending.  In 2012, she cut just $60 million – or one quarter of one percent of the state’s $23 billion budget.  And in 2011 she vetoed $213 million – or less than one percent of that year’s $22.1 billion spending plan.

Embarrassing … especially in a state as bloated and inefficient as South Carolina.

This year Haley has rolled out a $23.4 billion executive budget – the largest spending plan in state history. Included in its pages? A whopping $467.1 million increase in Medicaid funding (which will go to fund the Palmetto State’s 16 percent Medicaid growth rate).

For those of you keeping score at home, that growth rate is three times last year’s increase … and more than three times the national average for states not accepting the Medicaid expansion associated with Obamacare.  Astoundingly, though, Haley has managed to swell South Carolina’s socialized medicine rolls above and beyond the average Obamacare state – which is expanding Medicaid at an 11 percent clip.

On education, Haley’s record is even worse … she’s approved a $26 million expansion of the state’s failed government-run preschool program (as we predicted she would), while her recently released K-12 education plan is $156 million worth of pure command and control investment in the state’s failed government-run school system.

Are these the policies of a Tea Partier? No.

Are they the policies of a “conservative?” No.

Are they the policies of “Republicans?”

Sadly, it would appear so …

During her six years as a member of the S.C. House of Representatives from 2005-11, Haley was a tireless advocate for less government.

Today? She’s your typical big government “Republican,” pursuing the same policies that have held this state back for years.

Pic: Travis Bell Photography