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Sitting down, Tea Partiers?

Six months after signing off on record spending increases passed by the “Republican-controlled” S.C. General Assembly, Gov. Nikki Haley on Friday proposed the largest budget in South Carolina history.

Haley’s proposed executive budget would spend a record $22.8 billion on state government. That total includes $5.7 billion in general funds (i.e. money raised from tax revenues), $8.3 billion in “other funds” (i.e. money raised from fees and fines) and $8.8 billion in federal funds (i.e. money sent from Washington, D.C.).

By Haley’s own calculations, her plan represents a $900 million (4.1 percent) increase over the current FY 2011-12 budget – which she claims falls under her “cap” for government growth. The plan represents a $2.1 billion increase over the FY 2010-11 budget – meaning that Haley, who ran on a platform of fiscal discipline, is presiding over a government that’s growing by more than a billion dollars a year.

Such growth is unacceptable under any circumstances but it’s particularly galling given that South Carolina’s government was already far too big for its britches.

Prior to the last round of record spending increases (pushed through beginning in 2005 by House Speaker Bobby Harrell and S.C. Senate President Hugh Leatherman) – South Carolina ranked tenth in the nation in terms of the government’s share of our economy with 40.5 percent of our gross state product comprised of government spending.

Not surprisingly, the “Republicans in Name Only” who control the purse strings in Columbia  were thrilled that Haley isn’t challenging their view that our state’s disproportionately large government should continue to grow.

“You may see this year more things in line with the governor’s budget than in the past,” House Ways and Means Chairman Brian White (RINO-Anderson) told the Associated Press.

On the positive side of the ledger, Haley’s plan provides $61 million worth of corporate income tax relief and $78 million worth of individual income tax relief – although such modest tax cuts are unlikely to do anything to stimulate the state’s economy.

By way of comparison, this website has proposed spending every penny of the estimated $1.1 billion in new money available to state lawmakers this year on individual income tax relief. We’ve also proposed freezing state spending for three years pending an extended bureaucratic review to determine which agencies should be cut, privatized or eliminated.

Nonetheless, Haley praised her proposed spending plan – saying that it made “tough decision(s) just as we do in our homes and businesses every day.”

“This year’s executive budget was a Team Haley effort. This was everybody coming together and saying we’re going to do this – and there’s going to be truth in budgeting,” Haley said.

Obviously we’ll have much, much more on Haley’s budget in the coming days, but in the meantime you can check out her plan for yourself by clicking on the link below …