NIKKI HALEY has worked hard to improve South Carolina’s image as a job-friendly state, and although she can’t claim all the credit, more people are working today than when she came into office.
The governor and Legislature have not melted into a Washington-style impasse, as we feared would happen. In fact, it was under her watch that the Legislature finally agreed to let governors control the state’s central administrative agency. And her education initiative was an important first step toward finally acknowledging and acting on the fact that it costs more to educate poor children in poor districts.
But that doesn’t make it a great day in South Carolina.
Too many people remain out of work, with real wages lower than before the recession. The poorest children still struggle to get a decent education. The agency charged with protecting children from abusive parents has failed spectacularly. More than 200,000 South Carolinians remain a medical emergency away from bankruptcy because Gov. Haley rejected a federally funded Medicaid expansion that would insure them, and produce more than enough jobs to pay for the meager share of the cost that our state eventually would have to cover.
We can’t lay all of that at the governor’s feet, but here’s what we can: Breathtaking lawlessness, as she had people arrested for violating laws that did not exist, directly defied state law and persuaded her political party to defy a state Supreme Court order and attempted to order around the Legislature. A refusal to acknowledge her mistakes, as when she attacked legislators for questioning DSS, rather than working to fix it. Carelessness with the truth, most frequently but not exclusively in overstating a jobs record that doesn’t need overstating.
South Carolina deserves better. And South Carolina can do better, with Vincent Sheheen.
Sen. Sheheen is not flashy. He doesn’t have a presence that fills the room. But he is smart and studied and dependable and honest, a man of integrity and sincerity, whose word can be trusted.
He understands that our state is only as strong as its weakest link, and he has built an impressive record of success in the Legislature, because he works across political lines to engage our most daunting problems.
He has worked relentlessly to make sure that all poor children can attend 4-year-old kindergarten, which makes all the difference in whether they’re even able to take advantage of whatever education we offer them.
He and his Republican co-authors wrote the only detailed plan to overhaul our antiquated, Swiss cheese tax code, stripping out loopholes and focusing on making our state more competitive.
He has been a leader, with his Republican partners, in the effort to inject accountability into the horse-trading Transportation Commission — to ensure that any new money we spend on roads and bridges will be spent on the roads and bridges we actually need.
He appreciates the limitations on the governor’s office — which is why he has worked harder than anyone else in government to increase its authority. That new law empowering the governor to act like a governor and transforming the Legislature so it can provide the oversight of state agencies that our state never has had? That was Sen. Sheheen’s brainchild, and it would not have passed without his tireless efforts. The fact that he redoubled his efforts on a reform that would accrue to the benefit of Gov. Haley speaks to his integrity, and his commitment to improve our state, regardless of political consequences.
Sen. Sheheen has spent years coming up with real solutions to the pathologies that prevent South Carolina from reaching its potential. Not just addressing this little piece of the problem du jour or that little piece, and certainly not making up problems so he can offer “solutions” that will excite his base.
Vincent Sheheen will continue working to make South Carolina a better place no matter what office he holds. Imagine how much more he can accomplish if we elect him as our governor.
And that is what we should do: Elect him as our governor.