Nikki Haley Makes Mark as Tough Budgeter, Job Advocate

Monday, 04 Jul 2011 11:28 AM

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South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, the youngest chief executive of any state in the union, is making her mark as an aggressive budget cutter and a strong advocate of increasing jobs, as she exhibits a “cheerleader’s enthusiasm for a state that often finishes toward the back of the pack in education, economics and health,” The New York Times notes in a profile of Haley.

Nikki Haley, South Carolina, budget“We are now what every state is going to want to look like,” the Republican governor told the Times in an interview almost six months into her administration. “We are now the state that is very excited. The people are now in charge.”

The “get excited” catchphrase has become the 39-year-old former lawmaker’s mantra, and one she uses in almost every speech, the Times observes.

Her critics aren’t as enthusiastic as the supporters who tout her efforts to improve government and propel business-minded economic change.

“Her understanding of the role of state government appears rather limited,” said political historian Jack Bass told the Times. But Bass, who recently wrote the book “The Palmetto State: The Making of Modern South Carolina,” also proffers an assessment that the Times says echoes among South Carolinians and national political observers alike: “I just find her interesting.”

The Times notes that her national profile is among the highest of the nation’s 29 freshman governors, a profile sure to remain high when her memoir, “Can’t Is Not an Option: My Story,” is released in January.

That book rankled some last week, as she signed the deal between vetoes of some items in the state budget, Politico reports.

“There’s a lot of people saying the staff is running a campaign instead of governing,” Chip Felkel, a longtime Republican operative in the state, told Politico. “What’s the book going to be titled? ‘How to lose friends and make enemies: My memoir’ by Nikki Haley?”

Haley’s criticism of President Barack Obama has lifted her national profile the most, The New York Times profile says: “ She regularly criticizes his policies on healthcare and spending, and has called him a bully for his administration’s stance on a $750 million jet assembly plant that Boeing opened in North Charleston in June.”

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) sued the aeronautics giant over the plant site, contending that Boeing picked the right-to-work state to retaliate against union workers in Washington state who struck three years ago.

Haley told a congressional oversight board on the NRLB that the federal government must quit impeding states’ economic growth.

On the other hand, her tough approach on spending ran afoul of lawmakers, who overrode most of her vetoes on a $6 billion general fund package last week. Even Republicans have accused her of prioritizing her own fame and political interests over the state’s.


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