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Nikki Haley Is Grading S.C. Lawmakers as She Advances Conservative Agenda

4 years ago
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Nikki Haley is sending out report cards. She will be grading the votes of state legislators.

The governor's announcement last week came with a letter "To the People of South Carolina" that said: "The purpose of the report card is to track the results of legislation that are important to what you elected me to accomplish. And believe me, your voice is loud and clear: you want more transparency, more accountability, more efficiency, and you want it done with less of your money.

"This is not personal. This is not partisan. This is good government."

The 13 categories for judging state House and Senate members include votes on spending caps, requiring more on-the-record votes, requiring the governor and lieutenant governor to run together on one ticket, and votes to sustain Haley's vetoes on the budget. The card leaves space for "other issues to be determined."

While state Sen. David Thomas, a Republican from Greenville, told The State newspaper that he appreciated the report cards because they spelled out Haley's priorities, state Sen. Joel Lourie, a Democrat from Richland, called the report cards an offensive public relations stunt. "Am I supposed to take it home and get my mother to sign it?" Lourie said.

Haley was certainly clear about her uncompromising conservative views during her campaign against Democratic opponent Vincent Sheheen. In pre-election debates, she supported South Carolina's status as a right-to-work state and her intention to "keep unions out." The pro-business Haley also looked to corporations for solutions to the state's budget problems, suggesting that they step in to save libraries. But issues at times faded into the background amid charges that she had had extramarital affairs and name-calling (and that was just from her own party).

Haley also gently put distance between herself and her one-time mentor, former Gov. Mark Sanford. It wasn't just because of his messy public affair with a woman he called his soul mate. (He is now divorced.) It was also his reputation for butting heads with legislators and for such stunts as carrying two live pigs into the House chamber in 2004 to protest the override of his veto on a budget bill Sanford said contained "pork." He garnered national attention as a rising Republican star before his personal life unraveled over several news cycles.

The telegenic, Indian-American Haley started out a star, with the backing of the tea party and the support of Sarah Palin. Haley and her state are in no danger of disappearing off the national map, especially with South Carolina's first-in-the-South primary drawing all manner of presidential hopefuls, and a debate among them scheduled for May.

As governor, Haley is comfortable in the national spotlight, whether it is confronting the president in Washington or telling The New York Times magazine on Sunday, "I don't lose."

For now, the state's first female governor is following up on the vision she laid out in her State of the State address, which promised smaller government and specific cuts to trim South Carolina's budget shortfalls.

Her plans to cut $2.5 million in financing for the arts commission and more than $9.5 million to ETV have met resistance. ETV operates a statewide network of television and radio stations and a closed-circuit telecommunications system used by schools, government agencies and businesses. Though the system is popular, Haley's actions follow similar moves by state governments across the country.

Haley has also had a number of legislative successes, including bipartisan support on House measures to create a new Department of Administration under the governor's control, and to require the governor and lieutenant governor to run on the same ticket.

She remains firm in her opposition to federal health-care reform legislation; she has urged President Obama to let South Carolina opt out while it comes up with its own plan.

Speaking of her plans to issue her report card: "I understand that it is difficult for all 168 members of the General Assembly and I to agree, but certainly we can be united in recognizing that we do the people's work and it's to the people that we have to answer. My hope is that you find the report card useful in helping exercise the power of your voice and instructive when you go the polls to elect your chosen leaders."

And the elected officials she has pledged to work with?

"Let me be clear: I will give your legislators prior notice about where I stand on legislation, as I have done throughout the year thus far, so that they will know what could be included in the report card before votes are cast."

Presumably, Haley won't be grading on a curve.

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Tagged: Nikki Haley

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The only so called conservative agenda this woman is advancing is the one where you tax the poor cut programs for the people end education and just give it all to the rich. She has no creditability to be grading anyone Nimrata is a complete failure and the Queen of the worst state in America. The only think this woman has been able to accomplish is line her pocket avoid paying taxes and determine who can cut hair. This woman is the very example as to what is wrong with america today.

March 07 2011 at 5:10 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply

Everyone knows the Republican AGENDA!!! Raise the PRICE OF GAS AND DIESEL and BUY ANOTHER ELECTION!!!

March 07 2011 at 4:51 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

Send her to California we desperately need her!!

March 07 2011 at 1:49 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

She needs to forget about grading someone or her fellow state legislators, and do her job as governor. She would do well to do those things that are akin to South Carolina. Moreover, she needs to brush up on historical events and events of the day.

March 06 2011 at 10:59 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Rogell's comment

If grading the state legislature on a report card by spending few minutes of some days, tantamounts to not doing her job as governor, then you have no idea what it means to be a governor and probably have deplorable organizing skills. In a four year term, how many minutes do you think would be required to grade career politicians who have wrecked South Carolina for years and whose voting records are easy to retrieve? She is the first governor to reject Obamacare. She opposes illegal immigration strictly. She opposes union thugs and supports competition in the work place. She developed her parents' firm into a multi-million dollar business, to give you a look into her management experience. Now, all you could bring up was historical events?

March 07 2011 at 10:28 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to riemannadi's comment

So rejecting Obamacare and having no alternative some how makes her what exactly? this woman has rejected every single proposal that would have helped this state. The state's problems like the rest of the country are because of the repubian policies. She is useless and will only further sink South Carolina.

March 07 2011 at 5:13 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down


March 07 2011 at 4:26 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to GARY's comment

Gary you must not be able to count very well. Not only did she barely win over Vincent Sheheen, but she had to eliminate thousands of vote from richland county to do it. South Carolina wouldn't know what a fair election was.

March 07 2011 at 5:15 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down

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