Beaufort News

Haley emphasizes frugality, transparency

If elected governor, Republican Nikki Haley said she will rein in wasteful spending, improve transparency in government and hold legislators accountable by eliminating anonymous voting and by posting detailed budgets online.

"I am a legislator that knows what good government is, and I think the people of South Carolina deserve to know what that feels like," the Lexington state representative said Monday at Aunt Chiladas restaurant. She spoke at Hilton Head Island's First Monday Republican Lunch Group.

"I'm an accountant and a business person that thinks government can run like a business, and I'm determined to prove it."

Haley said she is not a career politician like the other Republican gubernatorial candidates -- Attorney General Henry McMaster, state Sen. Larry Grooms, Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer and U.S. Rep. Gresham Barrett.

"This is truly a stepping stone for them," she said. "It's not for me."

State Sen. Tom Davis, R-Beaufort, said he believes Haley will achieve reform.

"That's why I'm supporting Nikki," he said. "In the five years she's been up there, everything she says, she follows through on."

Haley answered Hilton Head Republicans' questions on a variety of topics Monday:

The economy. Job creation and lowering the state's 12-percent unemployment rate is a major priority, Haley said. Developing the economy includes comprehensive reform of South Carolina's tax code and eliminating the income tax on the small businesses that help drive the economy, she said.

Gov. Mark Sanford. Haley said she is both personally and professionally disappointed in Sanford, who left the state for a secret five-day trip to Argentina in June and later admitted to having an affair with an Argentinean woman. One attendee asked her if Sanford should be impeached.

"We all need to wait until the ethics investigation comes out before we pass any judgment at this point," Haley said.

Education. Haley, who attended a rural public school in Bamberg, has two children in public schools. She said unfair disparities exist throughout the state's school districts and reform of the education funding formula is necessary.

In Lexington, she said, every school is like a private school, with advanced technology in most classrooms. Students in places such as Bamberg don't receive the same luxuries, she said.

"We can't fund education based on property tax in this state," she said. "It's archaic. It is old."

Government spending. Wasteful spending occurs in Washington and Columbia,and too many politicians don't understand the value of a dollar, Haley said.

"Tax relief doesn't mean anything if you don't rein in spending at the same time," she said.