Tonight, the Governor will address the General Assembly a week after she gave the official Republican response to the President’s State of the Union address. Let’s not kid ourselves: the governor is clearly auditioning for the GOP ticket as an establishment choice.
The consensus: she will have “fallen short” of her own soaring rhetoric, and her record speaks louder than her speeches about what she believes America should be.
The governor who believes that Black Lives Matter amounts to “chaos” on our streets, says that she brought the state together to bring down the Confederate battle flag from the State House grounds last summer. She actually dismissed state Senator Vincent Sheheen’s call to take it down in 2014, saying no corporate heads were bringing it up. Even after nine parishioners were murdered last summer by a neo-Confederate domestic terrorist it took massive national outrage, three mass protests in Columbia and Charleston, and South Carolina business interests calling her office for her to finally call to take it down.
The governor will, as she did last week, take this opportunity to once again lie about a law that has already helped 150,000 South Carolinians afford health coverage. The Affordable Care Act (known as Obamacare) also shored up market protections for millions across South Carolina (i.e.: no-copay wellness screenings; contraception coverage; extending young adults’ coverage to age 26). The only thing “disastrous” about this law is that it allows the Governor to refuse to expand Medicaid to 200,000 working South Carolinians (and shutter rural hospitals like in Barnwell County) for her personal gain.
That’s not the only thing she’s done to undermine health care in South Carolina. Last year, the Governor went on a witch hunt against Planned Parenthood South Atlantic in South Carolina, ordering the Department of Health and Environmental Control to suspend the clinics for minor infractions.
She will also try, as she did last week, to peddle the lie that we can somehow cut income taxes below what even Republicans believe is needed to fund core functions of government. This is asinine. South Carolina highways before the Flood of 2015 were full of potholes and SCDOT needed at least $1.5 billion a year for repairs. She instead offered to raise $400 million in gas taxes in exchange for choking the state of $1.8 billion a year. Even legislative Republicans said that her tax cut plan would undercut money for core functions of government—such as public education and repairing roads that needed repair before they were washed away.
This brings us to education. In 2015, the S.C. Supreme Court found what we have known for 25 years: South Carolina has not given its children even a “minimally adequate” education. Before that? The Republican-held S.C. Senate proposed in 2011 a bill to add $105 million to the Education Department’s budget to help address that then-inevitable Supreme Court order. Governor Haley? She wanted that money for tax cuts. The year after that, the education budget was lower than it was the year before.
Tax cuts cost money, and they cost better services for people. Should Congress take her lead, it would actually be a repeat of the Bush tax cuts: the cuts would all be on the revenue side with almost all of it going to the top one percent—and no spending cuts to match—therefore exploding the deficit and national debt. Again.
Actions speak louder than words, and the America that Nikki Haley describes in her “governance” of South Carolina is not the America we believe it needs to be. America needs to be a more inclusive place where all are welcome, and where our laws are not rigged to ensnare people based on race or class or anything else. We need an America where health care is a right of all people and not a privilege of wealth. We need an America that makes good on its promises—moral and budgetary—and is not afraid to pay for them.
That’s the America we believe in—our governor would make that unrecognizable.
The State of the State address and the official Democratic Party response by state Rep. Mandy Powers Norrell of Lancaster County will air at 7:00 PM ET on your local SC ETV station.