South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley made a stop in Berkeley County Thursday.
“Driving through Moncks Corner today, I am so proud of the small town beauty you have created here,” the governor said at the beginning of her Moncks Corner Rotary Club address at Gilligan’s on Thursday, July 10. “Small towns are the backbone of the American Dream and it is alive and well in South Carolina.”
Haley came to town around noon on Thursday, and took a quick tour of downtown Moncks Corner before heading to the Tail Race Canal and a lunchtime address with the Moncks Corner Rotary Club and a packed dining room of elected officials, and civic and business leaders.
“I am hearing constantly, the question about the American Dream, that it is dead,” she said. “When I hear it I take it personally.”
In 2011 when Haley took office, unemployment in the state stood at 11.1 percent.
“We were coming out of a recession,” she said. “When I took office I decided we had to get South Carolina in the customer service business.”
Haley said her efforts have paid dividents in the three-plus years she’s been in office. Unemployment sits at 5.3 perecent, an all time state low.
“More people are working in South Carolina than ever before in the history of the state,” she said. “To improve South Carolina you have to take care of all of South Carolina and that includes the rural areas.”
Haley touched on several topics during her 45-minute address, discussing the competition between the Palmetto State and Georgia as to who has the most efficient sea port; education and the need for all students to be able to read before entering fourth grade; the hidden catch with the local penny sales tax, and the five-year old Berkeley County hospital dispute, DHEC and the Certificate of Need program.
On which is better for shipping, Charleston or Savannah, Haley said, “While I love the spirit of competition, our port is just better. We’re deeper, we can service a larger variety and volume of ships, and we just do it better than they do.”
On healthcare, specifically Obamacare, Haley remained adamant.
“Healthcare should be state based and not federal based,” she said. “We will continue to resist and say, ‘No,’ to Obamacare.”
On welfare, Haley said it is about finding out how to put welfare recipients to work.
“Before, you filled out the application and waited on your check. What we need to do is to find out what kind of skills these recipients have and find them jobs. They want to work. They want to make their families proud. Then you can take the 20,000 people off welfare and make them part of the workforce.”
On education, the governor said children need to learn to read by the fourth grade if they want to continue progressing toward a diploma.
“More than 800,000 people in South Carolina don’t have a G.E.D. and there are only 4.5 million people in the state” she said. “We have to teach these kids to read.
“If a child can’t read by the end of the third grade, they will not advance to the fourth grade. Statistics show if a student can’t read by the fourth grade they are four times more likely not to graduate.”
Haley will face Democratic State Sen. Vincent Sheheen in November’s general election.