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Gov Haley Hands Out Grades, And Gets A Few Of Her Own

Nikki Haley
South Carolina Government
South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley South Carolina

Governor Nikki Haley has proven a polarizing figure during her first 10 months in office. Some of her loudest critics are members of her own Republican Party. She's been the subject of numerous media reports that challenge her claims of success in creating jobs and spending tax dollars wisely. Now, Haley has embarked on a seven-city tour to tout her accomplishments and grade lawmakers. 

The tour kicked off at Winthrop University in Rock Hill Monday night. What better place to hand out grades than a college campus? Republican Governor Nikki Haley gave A's and B's to a little over half of South Carolina lawmakers. Twenty-two percent of them got F's - all of them Democrats - which is no surprise considering Haley based the grades on how well lawmakers supported her agenda of spending cuts and restructuring state government.

York County Republican Representative Tommy Pope scored an A and quipped, "I wish Mom and Daddy were still living!"

"It beats getting the F and trying to explain why I'm diametrically opposed to (Governor Haley)," says Pope.

Governor Haley insists the report card - which she promised while on the campaign trail - is not partisan. "These were good government, pro-business issues, every single one of them," says Haley.

A trio of Democratic state lawmakers gave the governor a report card of their own with mostly Fs. They point to the state's 11.1 percent unemployment rate and the more than $150,000 spent on the governor's economic development mission to Paris, which has yet to result in new business for the state.

Democratic Representative Brad Hutto says the governor lacks substance. "There's so much more she could do if she would stay off the Fox News stations and get to work in the governor's office," says Hutto.

During her town hall presentation, Governor Haley mentioned those frequent appearances on national television. She says it's part of her job creation strategy. "Every time I go on national TV I talk about the fact that the NLRB going after Boeing is the most un-American thing I have ever seen," said Haley to applause from town hall attendees.

The NLRB - or National Labor Relations Board - says Boeing opened its plant in Charleston to illegally punish union workers for striking at another Boeing plant in Washington State. Haley says the more she talks about the situation, the more calls she gets from companies looking to do business in South Carolina. "So there is a reason to my madness and I will tell you it is working," says Haley and points to the more than 13,000 new jobs announced in the state since January.

However, many of those new jobs are merely promises for now. The actual hiring may not happen for years. Meantime, Haley says she will push lawmakers for funding to create a job training program so the state's many unemployed citizens can switch to new fields that are hiring. She's also planning phase one of a multi-year tax reform proposal. First on the list is cutting some corporate taxes and reducing the number of brackets for personal income taxes.

"If we continue to do this phase by phase over the next three to four years, we will be one of the most competitive tax states in the country," says Haley. "That is a promise. We just need their help to do it." Haley is counting on the people who attend her seven town hall meetings in the next few weeks to put pressure on lawmakers to get in line and earn an A on next year's report card.

As for their views of Haley's performance, a recent Winthrop University poll found 70 percent of Republicans approve of the job Haley is doing. Many at the Winthrop town hall meeting say she's earned a solid grade so far. "I would give her - what I've seen of her at least - a B-plus, leaning towards an A-minus," said Cindy Hamilton. "She's doing okay," said Charles Hochreiter. Diane Carr adds, "I'd give her a B-plus at least. She is not majorly disappointing me in anything."