Well, that didn't take long.
Gov. Nikki Haley was in office only one day before it began to look like the era of big government had returned to the Statehouse.
The Associated Press reported Thursday that Haley will pay her chief of staff $125,000. Her deputy chief of staff for communications -- one of those guys who deals with the media and lawmakers -- will make a whopping $122,775.
Hey, the governor only makes $106,000. Didn't know that? Well, here are some more fun facts about her chief of staff's salary. It is:
--$27,000 more than Gov. Mark Sanford paid his chief of staff.
--Three times the median household income in South Carolina.
--Four times the per capita income.
So much for belt-tightening, fiscal conservatism and being frugal with the taxpayers' money.
Looks like the Sanford era is truly over.
The real world
Haley's defense was laughable.
She said the overall expense of the governor's office is down, that she's not borrowing staff from other agencies to hide expenses. Well, good for her (and nice dig at the ol' mentor). That's what she is supposed to do.
But if she was really trying to save the taxpayers' money -- and didn't Haley make a big deal out of that during the campaign? -- maybe she should be just a little less generous with her recycled campaign staff.
She said, "The staff is not coming in Monday through Friday 9 to 5. We get the job done no matter what the hours."
Welcome to real life, governor.
Just about every worker in this state does the same thing, for far less money. And for the past three years, many have done it without raises.
And none of them is paid more than the boss.
Good ole boy?
When Sanford took office, it was a big story that he cut the pay for key staff positions. He paid his communications director, his chief of staff -- and everyone else -- far less than previous governors had.
He was tight, everyone knew it, and they laughed about it.
But he had the right idea. No one in state government should make more money than the governor, certainly not her underlings. Most of her staff's salaries are higher than what Sanford paid his staff.
"She needs to understand that perception is reality," state Rep. Harry Ott, the House Minority Leader, told the Associated Press. "And the perception of these $125,000 salaries is of the good ol' network she campaigned against."
Poor people are losing their health care, the state is borrowing money for unemployment benefits and there's talk of cutting the school year at a time when education is not exactly prospering here.
The state has a budget shortfall of $829 million and, to balance it, the General Assembly is probably going to lay off a lot of people. And Haley thinks it's OK to over-pay these guys.
This is exactly the kind of good ol' boy, back-scratching politics she campaigned against. Using her power to give extravagant salaries to her campaign workers is hypocritical.
The people who voted for her ought to be mad as hell.