COLUMBIA, S.C. — Governor Henry McMaster said South Carolina needs to be bold and seize opportunities created by billions of additional dollars in the budget in his State of the State speech on Wednesday.
McMaster gave his address to both senators and representatives Wednesday night at the state capitol building.
The speech was a chance for the Republican governor to tout his accomplishments from last year and set out his 2022 goals like cutting taxes and setting aside more than a billion dollars for roads.
"South Carolina is booming," McMaster said about the state of the economy. "People from all over the world are visiting and falling in love with our state. Employers are creating new jobs, entrepreneurs are opening new businesses, and companies are deciding to relocate here. Our business and family-friendly environment has produced historic gains in new jobs, capital investment and population growth."
McMaster once again attributed the state's fiscal standing to his decision not to shut most of the state down during the early days of the pandemic.
The governor used the speech to attack President Joe Biden, with whom he's quarreled for much of the president's first term in office, for his COVID stands on vaccine rules and masks mandates and immigration policy.
McMaster then turned to his legislative priorities, including cutting the state's income tax, full-day kindergarten, changing the school funding model, and raising teacher pay.
"In exchange, every school district must disclose how they spend every dollar, be it local, state, or federal," McMaster said. " This information must be published online by the state Department of Education, so parents and taxpayers will know where their money is being spent. In the classroom? Or is it being spent on administration? Or overhead? Or somewhere else?"
McMaster also called for using federal COVID relief money on infrastructure projects, including interstate construction and expansion of broadband services.
The Democratic response to the governor’s speech was given by Rep. Spencer Wetmore, an attorney from Folly Beach.
Rep. Wetmore outlined what she said was a different vision for South Carolina. "I call on my colleagues to reject bitter partisanship extremism and the harsh rhetoric that comes with it," she said. "These are strategies of yesterday, and we need need leadership for tomorrow."
Wetmore echoed the governor's call for more infrastructure work, but also said the state should expand Medicaid, protect the environment, and do more for teachers, including not diverting public money to private schools.
"Our teachers deserve respect and raises instead of kind words and coffee mugs," she said.
Wetmore is relatively new to elected state politics. The Princeton University and Vanderbilt law graduate served as a prosecutor in the local solicitor's office in Charleston. In 2014, she became city administrator in Folly Beach.
Back in the summer of 2020, she won a special election to replace Pete McCoy, who'd been picked to be U.S. Attorney for South Carolina. She then won the general election in November.
WATCH: Spencer Wetmore delivers Democratic Response to the State of the State