Columbia, SC (WLTX) - Governor Nikki Haley called for more emphasis on education and tax relief in her annual State of the State address.
The remarks came during her speech to lawmakers Wednesday night at the South Carolina State House. Full Text: Governor Nikki Haley's State of the State
Saying said the state of the state was "strong," Haley touted the job creation that's taken place in our state over the last several years and the current unemployment rate, which is the lowest in a half decade.
However, she spent the majority of the address discussing plans to create new opportunities for education. Haley said she was moved by the discrepancy between the resources her daughter has as a student in Lexington County and the conditions found at a school in her own hometown of Bamberg.
"Our kids should never feel that they are more or less worthy based on where they live," Haley said. "Our children should all feel like they have every opportunity to be as successful as they dream to be. And South Carolina can no longer accept that the quality of our children's education will be determined by where they are born and raised."
To address the problem, Haley wants to allocate to school districts 20 percent more in state dollars for each child that falls into the poverty tax, a move she says will put $100 million more to the state's neediest children.
She also wants to offer a reading coach to every elementary school in South Carolina, an idea she got while talking to former Florida Governor Jeb Bush.
Finally, Haley said rural districts need to be better equipped with tools including computers, tablets, and instructional material.
"We can light that fire in the mind of every child in South Carolina, change the fortunes of generations of children yet to come, and forever alter the direction of our state," she added.
In other calls for policy changes, Haley said she wants a simple and fairer tax code, and championed the elimination of the six percent tax bracket. She vowed to veto any bill that would raise the state's gas tax, which hasn't been increased in a quarter century.
Haley also took time to praise lawmakers who passed a government restructuring bill Tuesday that she said weakens the Budget and Control Board, which she referred to as "the big, green ugly monster." In her thanks, she even singled out State Senator Vincent Sheheen, her Democratic rival for governor in this year's election.
The governor also used the address to express her distrust in the federal government, saying it causes more problems than it helps, and asked lawmakers to continue to work for ethics reform.