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Haley takes names in blasting House for pay raise override

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Haley takes names in blasting House for pay raise override

Gov. Haley talks Wednesday to the Mount Pleasant Business Association and blasts House members who voted to override her pay raise veto.

Gov. Nikki Haley lashed out at House members by name, including Speaker Bobby Harrell, R-Charleston, a day after they overrode her veto of their pay raise.

"You need to know who did it," she told a roomful of more than 100 business people here.

"This is not about threats. This is about the fact that if they are going to do this behind your back, it is my job to put it in front of your face."

Lawmakers supporting the 53 percent, $12,000 per lawmaker increase were emboldened because they don't have opposition in November's election, she said.

"They know there is two years (until the next election), and you will forget," she said. "Don't forget this, because when we're trying to tell companies that we care about our economy, the first way you show that is by how your government acts."

Late Wednesday, the Senate voted, without debate, to uphold Haley's veto against the increase.

Senate Finance Chairman Hugh Leatherman, R-Florence, has argued that the cost of gas has more than tripled since legislators last received a pay raise, making it more expensive to travel around districts than can span multiple counties. But Leatherman, the Senate's newly elected leader, did not advocate for the raise Wednesday, though he was one of the 10 voting to override. Realizing the motion was about to fail, several senators switched their votes during the roll call.

Haley said Harrell led the House push for the pay increase, but she also singled out Lowcountry House members of both parties for their support, including Republican Reps. Bill Crosby, Jim Merrill, Stephen Goldfinch and Mike Sottile and Democratic Reps. Wendell Gilliard, Seth Whipper and David Mack.

Goldfinch, of Murrells Inlet, faces an opponent in November from former Democratic Rep. Vida Miller, and Harrell faces Democratic challenger Mary Tinkler. Others have either no opposition or face third party candidates.

Lawmakers largely dismissed Haley's criticism.

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"She called my name? Well, bless her little soul," Gaillard said of Haley's remarks. "If she'll give up her pay, then I'll give up mine."

"This job is not a part-time job. South Carolina really needs to understand that," the Charleston lawmaker added. "This is a seven-day a week, 365-day-a-year job."

Mack, of North Charleston, said he also was not worried, adding, "Her tea party crowd ain't going to vote for me anyway."

Harrell spokesman Greg Foster said Haley "seems to be confused about who led the push for this. It was not included in the original House budget, but was added by the Senate."

Haley called the vote "the biggest disappointment" of all the House's veto decisions this week, and she outlined the behind-the-scenes discussions she had with lawmakers on the topic.

She said they expressed concern that it was difficult to get good people to run based on the current pay.

She said she understood that, but she found it hard to stomach a pay raise for lawmakers when first responders, Department of Social Service caseworkers and roads also need more help.

Haley said the state has more jobs coming, more steps in the work to help businesses and newly passed education reform.

"I don't want to end on a downer because we have so much to be proud of," she said after mentioning the pay raises, "but the representation in this state can't take this success for granted. This is hard to come by."

The Associated Press contributed to this report. Reach Robert Behre at 937-5771.

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