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Gov. Nikki Haley: Failed bonds bill was 'legislative wish list'

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley (Source: Governor's office)
South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley (Source: Governor's office)
Published: Mar. 16, 2015 at 2:59 PM EDT|Updated: May. 12, 2016 at 1:21 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Gov. Nikki Haley is firing back at Democratic legislators' statements made during last week's heated budget debate.

During a four day-long negotiation on a $500 million bonds package, House Minority Leader Todd Rutherford called Haley a "hypocrite" and "narcissistic" for opposing the package in a statement made Wednesday. Rutherford also accused the governor of playing "petty politics" in fighting the package, pointing out she supported a large bonds package for Boeing in 2010.

"The governor is standing down at her desk trying to throw rocks at us for doing what's best for South Carolina," Rutherford said.

Haley was vehemently against the bonds bill, which included $50 million in funding for construction of a new MUSC Children's Hospital, funding for a new SLED crime lab, and several higher education projects. Haley said the package was formed in backroom deals, with little transparency, and would drive up state debt.

During budget week in the House, Haley took an active roll speaking out against the package on social media, urging voters to contact their representative.

"I have a job to do," Gov. Haley said. "My job is to say something when I see it's wrong. If I have to go to social media to do it, it's because I know how busy taxpayers are."

The bonds package did not make it into the final budget approved by the House. Rep. Mia McLeod spoke out in an email, accusing Haley of "cyber-bullying."

Haley sent out a statement responding to legislative claims.

"Bonds are meant for big infrastructure needs, big economic development infrastructure, big road infrastructure, and things that are not the normal course of business," Haley said. "What we got was a legislative wish list. What we got was a group of projects that they wanted to put into a bill that easily could have been paid for within this budget and the $400 million in additional revenue. We have to do a bond when it makes sense. There are certain times when that happens, but you don't do it behind closed doors where even all of your House colleagues are not aware of it."

In her first interview since the failure of the bonds package, Haley reiterated her stance.

"There's a place for bonds, but bonds are meant for longterm infrastructure projects. They're not the normal course of business. They're not meant for your day-to-day regular projects. That's where this went wrong," Haley said. "When you look at an economic development deal, that's a long-term infrastructure project."

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