Lawmakers Respond to Haley's State of the State

12:25 AM, Jan 23, 2014   |    comments
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Columbia, SC (WLTX) -- Reactions to Governor Nikki Haley's State of the State address mostly followed party lines.

Several Republicans, including Senate President Pro Tempore John Courson approved of Haley's remarks, while Democrats say Haley failed to outline how to execute her plans.

"It was a speech," said Richland County Senator John Scott, a Democrat. "I'm still looking for a lot more."

"I thought it was great. I think South Carolina's in a great place," said Lexington County Senator Katrina Shealy.

Haley vowed to veto any bill that came across her desk to raise the gas tax. Leaving some to question how the General Assembly could fully address the condition of South Carolina's infrastructure.

"The governor has a responsibility to deliver a real, concrete plan for the way forward to improve our infrastructure and address our needs and a money tree is not a plan," said Richland County Representative James Smith, who delivered the Democratic Response to Haley's State of the State.

"I wish we would get to a stable funding mechanism for roads, maybe out of the general fund, not so much a tax increase, but allocation of resources towards our roads and not so much from a debt standpoint but from prioritization standpoint," said Spartanburg County Republican Senator Lee Bright.

Haley introduced nine special guests who represented companies that invested in the state and created jobs. She said they announced more than 43,000 new jobs, in 45 out of 46 counties, and nearly $10 billion invested in the state.

"You saw the people we had here with all the new jobs in South Carolina. I can't think that we'd be in a better place." said Lexington County Senator Katrina Shealy.

Education was a big topic among lawmakers following Haley's lengthy comments on the issue during her speech.

Bright said he would have liked to hear Haley address school choice, but other Republicans were more impressed with her comments.

"It's really refreshing to have a governor come out strongly in favor of public education," said Courson. "I think she probably surprised some people by going off on the education component which is not usual for a Republican governor, but she did and I very much appreciate it."

Democrats say Haley's education focus comes close to this year's election. Smith called it an "election year conversion." Others say she's turned a blind eye to education in previous years.

"She acted as if she's had her head in the ground for the past four years that she's been elected and didn't realize that there were education problems in South Carolina," said House Minority Leader Todd Rutherford of Richland County. "Welcome to the club. Welcome to the realization that we need help in South Carolina. Glad that you have adopted some of the Democratic proposals to move this state forward but you are a day late and a dollar short."

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