Just once, it would be nice to be able to respect one of this governor’s vetoes

2008 file photo

Cases could probably be made for some of Nikki Haley’s vetoes, but she doesn’t offer them. With each news story I read about yet another veto, I wait for her argument — and it never comes.

For instance, here’s what was offered instead of an actual reason for vetoing the Governor’s Schools:

“All of these are good things, but if we’re going to lead and take South Carolina to a new place, we’ve got to take the emotion out of it,” she said Thursday. “How can we handle these things smarter? To do that sometimes hurts, and to do that sometimes means we wait but we make good decisions in the end.”

You almost get the feeling that she pulled those words out of a dictionary at random. Take emotion out of it? What emotion? “Handle these things smarter?” OK, in what way? Just give us one of your smarter ideas. That would be helpful. Give us just one example of what a “good decision” might look like, by your lights. If you can.

But it increasingly appears that she can’t. These vetoes aren’t intended for analysis; they’re intended to appeal to gut impulses within her base. She vetoes the Arts Commission because it’s the closest she can get to slapping at the National Endowment for the Arts, which Robert Mapplethorpe put on the map as a favorite whipping boy of the right. (Yes, I know that doesn’t make sense, but with the Snake Flag crowd, things don’t have to make logical sense.)

She vetoes the Governor’s Schools because, I don’t know: Maybe some of those kids will grow up to be supporters of the Arts Commission. Maybe she figures none of her most ardent supporters have kids who go to the Governor’s Schools. Maybe she’s right.

(Disclosure: Two of my children attended the governor’s schools — one the one for science and math, the other the one for arts and humanities — but neither chose to stay there until graduation.)

I’d feel better about it if she would explain precisely what she wanted to do with the money instead, and why. I might argue with it, but I could respect her more.

As it is, I’m just sick and tired of hearing about her little gestures of pointless destruction. I’ve never been a fan of nihilism.

44 thoughts on “Just once, it would be nice to be able to respect one of this governor’s vetoes

  1. Kathy Duffy Thomas

    Well, Brad, education is just a distraction. I think it’s important to remember that the smart decision, not the emotional decision, is to decide not to help anyone who can’t help themselves or.. this is important, anyone who is smarter than the governor. Which should lead to a zero budget.

  2. Steven Davis II

    I actually agree with several of her vetos… either funding is already available or it’s something that the state doesn’t need to be funding. There are vetos where legislators want to use it for salaries but the funding is one-time money. How does this get funded next year and the year after?

  3. Tavis Micklash

    The vetoes were hand picked against liberal targets to bring national attention.

    Few will stand nor does she expect them too. The purpose was already met though.

    Its not even good fiscal planning. If she made significant cuts I could see it. Its less than 1% of the state budget. It avoids the sacred entitlement cows that are sinking the country in general.

    Ohh and her staff got a 25% pay raise I think.

    If you want to make cuts fine. Just do them in a responsible less transparantly partisan manner.

    I wrote a post similar to this responding to Steve Benjemin’s comments on the Arts Commision Cuts. Link is below if anyone is interested.


  4. Steven Davis II

    Why does South Caorlina need a year-round Governor’s School? Several other states’ Governor’s School consists of a six-week summer session. I think the only two states that have a year-round Governor’s School are SC and VA. Why can’t those students go to a public school in their school district?

  5. Steven Davis II

    As someone commented on The State regarding the Governor’s School:
    Currently budgeted $6,800,000.00 to educate 216 students???? Is SC developing the world’s first Super Race of children?

    How does this compare to other schools? This comes out to $31,481.48 per student.

  6. Mark Stewart

    My first thought when seeing her Governor’s school vetoes was, that’s funny, she just smacked down an alternative learning structure that has proven to produce results. At least US News saw it that way, I believe, in highly ranking the schools.

    So what if it’s a bit of an educational Potemkin Village; if it is innovative structurally and produces potential future leaders, is it so bad that SC has something positive that can stand up to national scrutiny?

  7. Brad

    Here’s the thing about Nikki and her vetoes…

    They’re just so thoughtless, so utterly lacking in seriousness. I think I probably gave more thought to the number of stars I assigned to those pop songs of summer than she applied to the funding for these agencies.

    And why SHOULD she make an effort, when she knows the Legislature will override her? THAT is where her lack of seriousness really shows. If the Legislature called her on these bluffs and let all her vetoes stand, the business community and other elements in this state would turn against her so totally that it might actually provide a “come to Jesus” moment for her that would cause her, for the first time, to engage the world as it is.

    But the Legislature WILL protect her from the fallout from her actions. So she gets her boost from the know-nothing voters she wants to appeal to, without severing all ties with serious people.

    How much longer will we tolerate this state of affairs in South Carolina? One governor after another who we know is all about empty gestures, and not governing… When will serious, thoughtful people rise up and elect a real governor, one with whom we might sometimes disagree, but whom we could respect as someone who was actually trying to lead the state in a constructive direction — or any direction, lacking that.

    The moment when Mark Sanford totally lost me for good was when he vetoed the entire budget, knowing full well that the Legislature would bail him out. And what did we get to replace him? Someone who is ALL ABOUT such empty gestures…

  8. Pat

    She said something about “her vision” back when she got rid of Darla Moore. I’ve yet to see her vision articulated in any manner whatsoever.

  9. tired old man

    She, her logic, and the record of her administration make a powerful argument that something was indeed dreadfully wrong with the Bamberg school system several dozen years ago.

    She (almost) makes you pine to see Mark Sanford back.

  10. Andrew

    Kenny Bigham’s kids went to the Governor’s School in Hartsville. I suspect that veto was just to tweak him.

    I suspect the override of that one will be up first, and debate and vote time will last about five minutes.

    And BTW, NC has a Governor’s school too. Several Southern states do, in order to prevent our best & brightest from heading off to some out of state prep school, never to return.

  11. Daniel

    She had this to say about her GSSM veto:

    “From all sources, the Governor’s School for Science & Mathematics is appropriated $8.4 million, which is more than $3 million higher than the previous year’s appropriation. All told, the General Assembly’s budget would increase state support for GSSM by more than 50 percent on an annual basis. I consider this increase excessive and believe that we can support the GSSM in a more fiscally responsible manner. At less than $1.2 million, this veto leaves over half of the total increases intact, providing the school with a healthy increase to support the further development of its programs.”

    And this about the GSAH veto:

    “I vetoed a personnel line for the Governor’s School for Science & Mathematics in Part IA, because I belived that it was excessive to increase that school’s funding by more than 50% this year as this budget allows. Growth for the Governor’s School for the Arts & Humanities is more restrained in this budget but is still present in the EIA’s “Partnerships” lines. For the number of students who attend this school, I consdier $1.25 million for the construction of a new Administration Building to be excessive and unnecessary.”

  12. Steve Gordy

    As long as South Carolina voters reward candidates whose stock in trade is empty gestures, that’s what they’ll get. We deserve her.

  13. Doug Ross

    Thanks, Daniel, for providing actual information rather than knee-jerk reactions typical of the comments here.

    I don’t like Nikki as governor but in reading her justifications for the vetoes, they seem reasonable.

    If you just want a rubber stamp governor, vote for Sheheen. He doesn’t have an opinion on anything unless it is against Haley.

    It’s surprising how shocked and disappointed people are when Haley governs EXACTLY as those who voted for her expected her to govern. Same with DeMint. They won their elections with a platform based on a specific philosophy and stay consistent to that philosophy. If you don’t like it, find a candidate who can win.

  14. Brad

    Umm, Doug, I too thank Daniel for the direct quotes. But I still haven’t seen anything that doesn’t raise more questions than it answers.

    That read like a Mark Sanford statement: An assertion that the funding was increased 50 percent, with no mention of how much it was cut during the downtown — just to mention one huge question it raises…

  15. Doug Ross

    How does the Governors School differ from providing vouchers for private schools?

    If Steven Davis’ cost per pupil numbers are correct, it sounds like the Governor’s School is an overpriced perk for the well-connected. What’s the racial mix of the Governor’s school anyway?

  16. Ralph Hightower

    There is only one veto that makes sense, the shoveling of money from the mortgage fiasco settlement to the Commerce Department. That money should be used for what it was intended for.

    My God, I can’t believe that I’m agreeing with Governot Haley on even one of her vetoes.

  17. Bart

    If you care to do a little more exploration about Governor’s Schools in neighboring states, read the latest on the ones in NC. The state legislature did not provide for funding in the new budget. NC’s schools operate only during the summer, not year round.

    The school in Hartsville, located on the Coker College campus recently completed construction of a new dorm at a cost of over $5 million. The three locations in SC, Charleston, Hartsville, and Greenville are growing in size and therefore will need more and more funding by the taxpayers.

    I may not agree with Haley on many fronts but she, as Doug pointed out, is doing exactly what she said she would do when running for office and so far, has kept to her campaign promise.

    And Brad, whether I agree with her decision or not, the direct quotes provided by Daniel seem to be about as clear as one can expect from any politician, Republican or Democrat.

  18. Kathy

    To tired old man: I’m not a betting person, but I will bet you a nice dinner that the Bamberg school system had nothing to do with Ms. Haley’s so-called logic, middle school attitude, and lack of knowledge. As the old saying goes, you can lead a horse to water…. As is usually the case, I have no doubt that Ms. Haley’s problems stem from the way she was taught by her parents. Then she entered the ranks of the Republican party at just the right time to be treated as a princess who could do no wrong. This was due to the party’s elation that they had a female, minority candidate with libertarian views. Haley was one of the few legislators that groveled at Mark Sanford’s feet; therefore, he pushed her forward on every possible occasion.

    Enter the Tea Party and Sarah Palin, and here we are. Haley was in the right place at the right time for herself and in the wrong place at the wrong time for good governance in SC.

    I do have a bone to pick with Bamberg Town Council: Why is Haley’s picture on the signs entering Bamberg? Really? What is wrong with you? Bamberg Hospital is now closed, and the plans for the regional hospital are in limbo. Has your “hometown girl” tried to help you solve that problem in some way or did her Medicaid “solutions” contribute to the closing of the hospital? Oh wait, the Bamberg Hospital forgot to hire Haley as a fundraiser. Oops.

  19. Brad

    Thanks, Daniel! In a quick glance (I still haven’t been to the office today; I’ve been running around), the picture appears as I guessed — they’re trying to restore lost funding (although I’m sure there’s more, when I have time to dig into it).

    They got through the lean times by turning to the private sector, and now they’re trying to become a more fully state institution again.

    As I say, at a glance…

  20. Abba

    In her veto message on the $10 million to school districts to help pay for the mandatory 2% teacher salary increases, the governor referred to public education as only a “popular program.” It’s more than that; it’s a constitutional obligation. Constitutional obligations are, or should be, of the highest priority in funding. Popular programs should be funded with what is available after our constitutional obligations, like education, are met.

    In addition, the teacher salary increases will have to be paid by the school districts whether or not they receive that $10 million that the governor vetoed. Her veto accomplished nothing more than passing the buck to local entities.

  21. Tavis Micklash

    “I do have a bone to pick with Bamberg Town Council: Why is Haley’s picture on the signs entering Bamberg? Really? What is wrong with you? Bamberg Hospital is now closed, and the plans for the regional hospital are in limbo. Has your “hometown girl” tried to help you solve that problem in some way or did her Medicaid “solutions” contribute to the closing of the hospital? Oh wait, the Bamberg Hospital forgot to hire Haley as a fundraiser. Oops.”

    I’m not going to trash any politician for refusing to bring home the bacon.

    Saying this I can’t pretend to know anything about the medical needs of Bamburg. Just because she doesn’t give her home town a pass I’m not going to throw her under a bus.

  22. Brad

    That one’s been overwhelmingly overridden in the House. Only Ralph Norman voted to sustain. Which tells you what you need to know about Ralph Norman.

    The House also overrode the Arts Commission veto.

    Governor’s Schools coming up.

    I’ll put up a separate post soon.

  23. Steven Davis II

    To me it says Ralph Norman is the only one who has any brains. The money being used for teacher raises is one-time money. Did you give your kids a permanent raise in their allowance because you found an extra $10 bucks in your pocket one week? How is this raise to be funded next year?

  24. Brad

    Actually, part of that might be PhotoShop. I lightened the photo slightly, and stepped up the contrast, and I think that turned her teeth up a couple of candlepower.

    But they were a whole lot whiter than mine to start with, that’s for sure.

  25. Daniel

    Granted, my review was cursory as well, but it appears that there has been a legislative directive via budget proviso that the GSSM ramp up to its full capacity (as enlarged by the recent completed capex for additional buildings).

    Their budget request was made with the objective to begin that process, which looks like it will almost double the number of students over the course of 3 years.

    The legislature has obviously prioritized the expansion of the GSSM. The gov clearly disagrees with that as a priority for additional spending.

    Regardless of your opinion on it, I will say that it would be incredibly difficult for any governor (whether Haley, Sanford, Hodges or otherwise) to present their budget vetos in a way that provides 100% clarity on the background/issues. The pages would number in the thousands, and there simply isn’t enough manpower in the budget offices to undertake it.

    That’s not to say that I disagree with your statement that Haley hasn’t been clear enough with her veto messaging (I haven’t really given it much thought one way or the other; I don’t have a clue where the quote in the above post comes from, but it isn’t all that helpful), but I do acknowledge that it can be difficult to try to relay the enormous amount of information/consideration that can be behind these decisions.

  26. Brad

    Going back a bit…

    Doug says, “It’s surprising how shocked and disappointed people are when Haley governs EXACTLY as those who voted for her expected her to govern.”

    Really? Did she say she was going to eviscerate the governor’s schools? Was that clearly communicated? What, was it in code, or spoken through a device that works like a dog whistle — only Tea Partiers can hear it?

    I have to disagree with Kathy when she says, “Then she entered the ranks of the Republican party at just the right time to be treated as a princess who could do no wrong. This was due to the party’s elation that they had a female, minority candidate with libertarian views.”

    Not exactly. She was not terribly popular in her party. In fact, she got less of the vote than any other statewide Republican, and was therefore just barely elected — because of the Republicans who voted for Sheheen, while voting for other Republicans on the ballot.

    And you yourself explain WHY she was such a relatively unpopular Republican: “Haley was one of the few legislators that groveled at Mark Sanford’s feet; therefore, he pushed her forward on every possible occasion.”

    That made Republicans who knew her and/or knew Sanford want anyone but her.

    The problem is, elections aren’t decided by people who know the score. They’re decided by people who believe the bumper stickers — and some of THEM WERE excited about some of the things you mention.

    But there weren’t enough of them excited for her to do as well as other Republicans in a year of historic GOP gains…

  27. Andrew

    Bart – NC has a more fully functioning program, but is is similar to SC.

    They have a summer Governor’s school at two locations – like SC uses 3 locations for its programs in Greenville, Hartsville and Charleston. The summer program is what you were referring to.

    Like SC, NC also has a full year program, the NC School for Science and Math. Unlike the SC schools, the NC year round school is part of the UNC system, and they do not charge the $1,100 a year student fee, like SC charges its students.

    The two SC year round residential schools are great schools, but they are generally trying to catch up with similar institutions like the ones in Louisiana, Arkansas, Illinois and NC. Essentially, they are state wide, residential magnet / charter schools. Haley’s veto would have put SC’s two schools further back than they already are, in comparison to similar schools.

    And we’re talking about the top cream of the state’s students, whose parents would not have a problem moving to another state for better education of this type. A quick view of the alumni of both schools show that some extraordinary talent is trained.

  28. Steven Davis II

    So Brad, who pays the $10 million dollar teacher’s raise next year and the following years? Everybody is screaming about it being a good thing, but where will the money come from next year and the following years?

  29. Brad

    That’s an interesting question. Interesting in that I don’t know why you ask it. Mark Sanford used to use that excuse for vetoing things, too, and it never made sense.

    He would veto things because the money will not (or in some cases with Sanford, MIGHT not) be there at some point in the future.

    So he would argue that we should do without these things in the years that we DO have the money for them, which is crazy. If he’s worried about a future time when we DON’T have the money, he can veto it then, and then he’ll have a hell of an argument on his side. Now, he does not.

    Yes, I know what the “thinking” is, if you want to call it thinking. It arises from a belief that spending always rachets upwards on every item, and if it gets in the budget, it will always be there, and you can’t get it out.

    Which is completely and utterly ridiculous.

    Every time we find ourselves in straitened circumstances, all sorts of things that have been funded for years get cut out of the budget. It happens every time.

    But Sanford hated government so much that he didn’t want the people to derive any benefit from it in the fat years, because what he wanted was a mechanism whereby we always rachet DOWNward — cut in lean times, then not restore in fat times, because then it would be in the budget and allegedly hard to cut in the lean times.

    None of it had anything to do with the real world, and everything to do with his ideology. His great fear was that people would see the benefit of an instance of government spending, and be willing to have their taxes raised in the future to continue financing it. Like that’s going to happen in South Carolina, which has only had one general tax increase since 1987, and that one accompanied by a huge tax cut.

    It’s just bizarre that we get people like Sanford and Haley in South Carolina, of all places. If they’d go to Massachusetts and complain about all the spending that the legislature does and how high taxes are, they would at least sometimes be right. In South Carolina, they’re yelling “fire” in a crowded theater that just happens to be fireproof, and in which the theatergoers are standing in five feet of water….

  30. Doug Ross


    Define “eviscerated”. Were the schools going to close if the veto was upheld? How much was the budget going to be cut from last year to this year?

    Sounds like you are all for what are essentially private elite schools when the taxpayers pay for them… but not when the poor are given vouchers to make that decision for themselves.

    Haley’s published reasoning for the vetoes was far more rational than your (and other’s) “the sky is falling” chicken little syndrome.

    I asked this last year – you have the contact with the Sheheen campaign — ask them which items Vince would have vetoed. A candidate for governor with any backbone would be able to tell us that.

  31. Brad

    Doug, you’re talking about apples and oranges here. No, that’s too close; they’re both fruit. You’re talking about apples and unicorns.

    The Governor’s schools are PUBLIC schools, and they are accountable to the people of South Carolina for what they do with the funding they get. And by all accounts they perform their mission well.

    Vouchers are for completely, 100-percent UNaccountable spending on… well, ANYthing that wants to call itself a school.

    This is night and day; the two things simply cannot be logically compared.

  32. Doug Ross


    So putting aside the “accountability” idea, what else makes the Governor’s School different from a private high-end school? Your apples-to-unicorns claim needs to go a lot further than that.

    The only difference between the Governor’s School and a private school that I can see is how it is funded. One is paid for by the parents and the other by everyone else who can’t send their kids to the school. Nice deal if you can get it. And how DO you get in the Governor’s School? Do I have to be REALLY cynical to think that you could trace the family trees of many of the attendees back to a well connected person in South Carolina? Do you know where I can get a roster of these students who are getting a government sponsored benefit?

    I know you never care about how much things cost when the government is spending the money, but let’s get back to the cost per pupil for this program. How much is it?

  33. Steven Davis II

    “That’s an interesting question. Interesting in that I don’t know why you ask it. ”

    So in other words, you don’t know.

    Save the history lesson, it’s history. I want to know who’s going to pay to continue this salary increase next year. Or is this a one year thing, like the money being used to pay it.

    So Brad, where is the money going to come from next year? You’re a smart guy who’s been in this business for decades, what’s your best guess if you don’t know.

  34. Steven Davis II

    “So he would argue that we should do without these things in the years that we DO have the money for them, which is crazy. If he’s worried about a future time when we DON’T have the money, he can veto it then, and then he’ll have a hell of an argument on his side. Now, he does not.”

    Were you ever in charge of a budget? From your thinking, I’m guessing no.

    How do you veto previous raises because you spent all of the one-time money last year? Since this was one-time money, it should be used one-time, as in a bonus, not a raise.

  35. Brad

    Yeah, Steven. I’ve managed a lot of budgets. I was a vice president of a large business.

    And I know all about the mechanics of cutting budgets, because almost every year, I had to get by with less than the year before. It would have been insane for me to do without those things in the years I COULD afford them, just because a time would come when I would not.

    What we’re talking about here is not some frill. It’s something that the schools are REQUIRED by law to pay for, and if the state doesn’t do it, the local districts will have to. One year in which the state pays for it is one year more for the districts to plan how they’re going to pay for it if the state can’t figure a way in the future.

    I know all about one-time money, and the need to pay for recurring expenses with recurring revenues, to the greatest extent possible. I just explained why, in this case, it makes sense to pay for this this way for a year.

  36. Steven Davis II

    So Brad, as a budget director… if you were given one time money, did you go around giving people raises knowing that you couldn’t pay for them the following years? If this is the way newspapers budget money, no wonder they’re going out of business at increasing rates.


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