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Haley Flip-Flops On Budget

12:24 PM ET, 01/ 5/2011

A day after S.C. Gov. Mark Sanford submitted his final executive budget, S.C. Gov.-elect Nikki Haley flip-flopped and said she would submit a spending plan of her own after all …

Last September, in an attempt to build relations with fiscally-liberal legislative leaders, Haley said she would not submit an executive budget. Not surprisingly, fiscal conservatives blasted that decision. And so did Sanford …who (rightly) felt that Haley was trying to score points with lawmakers at his expense.

We criticized Haley’s decision, too, because we felt it betrayed her commitment to taxpayers.

“Haley has removed a key plank of her bully pulpit before she’s even been elected, let alone sworn in,” we wrote at the time. “She’s also clearly signaling to state lawmakers that she will not challenge them on spending issues the way Sanford did – which is great news if you’re a state lawmaker, but awful news if you’re a South Carolina taxpayer.”

Spending decisions have historically been the purview of the S.C. General Assembly, and Sanford’s executive budgets infuriated state lawmakers. For years, they had grown accustomed to wasting your money without any executive interference.

Anyway, while the majority of Sanford’s suggestions were ignored, his initial executive budgets revolutionized the way that governors approach the spending debate in Columbia. They also represented a dramatic expansion of his bully pulpit – one of the few tools that S.C. governors have at their disposal.

Unfortunately, Sanford’s last two budgets (click here and here) have proposed far too much new spending and have abandoned many of the structural reforms that he originally championed.

That’s disappointing … but not as disappointing as Haley’s decision to give up on the executive budget altogether.

Now, however, Haley has apparently decided to submit a spending plan after all … at least according to the Charleston Post and Courier.

“I will submit it, but I am not just going to print it and put it on a desk. I very much want to be involved in the budget process.” Haley told reporter Yvonne Wenger.

(To read Wenger’s story, click here).

Haley’s comments are obviously intended as a backhanded slap at Sanford, who has privately told several key supporters that he “regrets” giving Haley’s campaign a key infusion of cash at its most vulnerable point last spring.

Why? We’re told it hinges on her abandonment of the executive budget.

Obviously, we don’t care about Sanford’s hurt feelings or Haley’s passive-aggressive pot shots … we do, however, care about the taxpayers’ bottom line. That’s why we’re hopeful that somebody will eventually put forward a budget that protects it.

Sanford’s latest budget certainly doesn’t do that … now it’s Haley’s turn.

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"Unfair and Imbalanced," FITS provides an irreverent look at politics in the always-entertaining Palmetto State. Written by Will Folks - a former gubernatorial spokesman turned new media mogul - FITS dishes the latest political news, gossip and analysis in a humorous, informal tone, opining from a decidedly libertarian perspective.
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