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NFIB endorses Haley, cites legislative compromise

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COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — The state chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business on Tuesday endorsed Gov. Nikki Haley in her re-election bid, repeating its 2010 support.

But the top item the group praised her for — cutting taxes on small businesses — was actually a legislative compromise that didn't follow her recommendations.

In 2012, the Legislature approved cutting the income tax rate that small business owners pay on their earnings from 5 percent to 3 percent over three years, providing $60 million in relief to business owners whose profits are taxed as personal income. Debate between the House and Senate on how much to cut caused a weeks-long budget stalemate resolved only days before a government shutdown.

Haley celebrated the final 2012-13 budget for providing tax relief.

But the praise followed earlier criticism. Her budget proposal had instead sought to eliminate corporate income taxes — a 2010 campaign issue. Haley even toured the state lambasting Republican leaders for not adopting her plan to cut $140 million in corporate and personal incomes taxes.

A release from Haley's campaign about Tuesday's endorsement credits Haley with delivering the relief to small businesses, noting she signed a continuing resolution that kept government running in 2012 until the budget took effect. The resolution also detailed the tax cut plan.

The political arm of the National Federation of Independent Business said small businesses have a great friend in Haley. Haley worked as an accountant at her parents' small clothing store. For that reason, she said, the endorsement means a great deal.

The endorsement was announced at Shealy Truck Center in Columbia. Third-generation owner Bruce Shealy also applauded Haley as fighting the federal health care overhaul and pushing for fewer regulations. He said the incentives doled out to bring big businesses to South Carolina — an issue that rankles many tea party Republicans — supports the growth of small businesses.

The business group also laid out what it wants next year.

Its top request is a repeal of the personal property taxes that businesses pay on their equipment and office furniture, said NFIB state director Ben Homeyer.

Last month, the South Carolina Education Association endorsed Haley's Democratic challenger, state Sen. Vincent Sheheen of Camden. The election is a rematch of 2010, when Haley won by 4.5 percentage points.

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