SC GOVERNOR TAKES CREDIT FOR PHANTOM ACCOMPLISHMENTS, SPENDING CUTS
For those of you unfamiliar with Nimrata Randhawa Haley, there are two competing narratives at work as it relates to South Carolina’s first term chief executive.
On the national stage we have Nikki Haley – the daughter of Indian immigrants, a “rising Republican star,” a “Tea Party favorite” and a “fiscal conservative” who has “taken on the good ol’ boys” in the Palmetto State. In fact this view of Haley was summed up in a recent post by RedState’s Erick Erickson entitled “Just A Reminder: Nikki Haley Remains Awesome.”
According to Erickson, Haley has drawn “a line in the sand over pork barrel spending in the state … telling the legislature that the good times aren’t back yet and they need to not live high on the hog.” Erickson also praised Haley for the “great conservative policy coming out of the Governor’s Mansion.”
Haley herself reinforced this narrative in a letter to national Republican donors seeking to capitalize on her recent speech to the Republican National Convention (a prime time speaking slot that she earned by selling her state down the river, incidentally).
Anyway, here’s what Haley had to say in her letter …
What started years ago with the bank and automaker bailouts has steadily crept towards the creation of a culture of entitlement … at the expense of hardworking American families.
Contrast that with our track record in the Palmetto State: in half that amount of time we streamlined state government, improved our budget and reduced state spending. Accountability and results aren’t hollow campaign promises in South Carolina.
Sounds good, doesn’t it?
Of course it does … like Haley’s big convention speech, it’s supposed to sound good – to make you view Haley in a particular light.
The truth? Well … that’s a different story. And that’s the other side of the Nikki Haley narrative – the story of a politician whose mounting lies and hypocrisies (and uncanny ability to evade accountability for her misdeeds) continue to defy belief. For the purposes of this post, however, we’re going to confine ourselves to Haley’s claim that she has “streamlined state government” and “reduced state spending” in South Carolina.
Both claims are patently, categorically and demonstrably false.
Despite cutting a deal with the devil on the issue of government restructuring, none of Haley’s proposals to “streamline” government have been passed by the S.C. General Assembly. In fact the failure of the S.C. Senate to pass the latest version of Haley’s plan prompted her husband to throw this hissy fit (which was childish, but less expensive for taxpayers than the hissy fit Haley threw the previous year when lawmakers didn’t pass her bill).
And while we can have a debate till the cows come home about whether Haley’s “streamlining” proposals will actually accomplish their intended objective (or instead wind up growing government and diminishing accountability), one thing isn’t up for debate … the fact that they haven’t been passed yet.
According, Haley’s claim to have “streamlined state government” is …
More insidious, though – and more central to unraveling the myth of this duplicitous politician – is Haley’s claim that she has “reduced state spending.” As we noted in our most recent look at South Carolina government’s finances, the current state budget for FY 2012-13 (which began on July 1) is $23.4 billion – a record. When Haley took office on January 12, 2011, South Carolina’s annual budget was $20.8 billion – meaning that on her watch state spending has increased by $2.6 billion.
Can all of that new spending be pinned on Haley, though? No … but over her first two years in office, she has vetoed a modest $273 million out of $45 billion in state spending (or 0.62 percent). She also proposed a $22.8 billion executive budget back in January – the largest spending plan in state history at the time.
Haley can’t even claim a decrease in the “general fund” portion of the state’s budget – which is habitually cited by the mainstream media as the “total” state budget. Why not? Because those funds have climbed by more than $900 million since Haley took office.
Like her “streamlining” claim, this statement is also …
“You can give a great speech if you don’t have to tell the truth and can take facts totally out of context,” one statewide elected official told FITS, referring to Haley’s claims.
That’s true … but at the end of the day the numbers don’t lie. The only question? Whether the national media – and South Carolina voters – ever open their eyes to the facts starting them in the face.