CHESTER — Gov. Nikki Haley stopped in Chester on Tuesday afternoon to talk jobs, disappointment in Washington politics and education reform.
The “jobs governor” addressed the Chester Rotary Club during a luncheon, giving locals a rundown on the state’s economic progress and urging for comprehensive education reform.
Haley, who is up for re-election in 2014 against a challenge from Democratic state Sen. Vincent Sheheen, has been running on an anti-union platform that calls for continued job creation with the help of big name brands.
She pointed to companies such as aircraft-maker Boeing and tire-maker Continental as examples of the state’s ability to draw large-scale manufacturing.
But increasingly, Haley’s campaign also has focused on revamping the state’s education system, which is separate from the governor’s office with its own elected superintendent.
Haley asked the crowd to imagine a CEO who didn’t have access to his or her staff.
“That’s me,” she said.
The governor’s administration will be unveiling an education reform plan in January that is focused on getting students to meet science, math and reading standards. Haley also hinted at giving individual schools more latitude when it came to their spending budgets.
“It won’t be a one-year silver bullet,” Haley cautioned of the plan. “There’s no one-year fix to education.”
While the governor is looking forward to the beginning of the next legislative session in January, she said she isn’t looking forward to January on Capitol Hill, when Congress is expected to tackle the issue of the debt ceiling and give a second go at funding the government.
“I’m so disappointed with both Democrats and Republicans,” Haley said of the partial government shutdown. “What an embarrassment.”
She said that neither party should have waited till the last minute to decide whether to fund the government, putting citizens at risk. The idea of raising the debt ceiling was another sore point for the fiscally conservative governor.
“Seventeen trillion dollars is enough debt,” she said of plans to raise the nation’s debt ceiling and extend its borrowing authority. She said that politicians in D.C. should look toward “living within our means.”
For a rural county like Chester, the governor’s strong emphasis on job creation pleased Rotary Club members such as Ray Peterson, a forester by trade.
“We were glad to have her come up and visit us,” said Peterson, who has lived in Chester since the late 1950s. “I’d like to see Chester and the city grow.”
Job creation remains the number one objective for the county, said Sue K. Carpenter, county clerk of court. She said Haley’s ability to attract new jobs is a big boon to rural areas such as Chester.
But Haley reiterated that her job as governor is to ensure that the state as a whole is on a path to continued economic success, regardless of whether an area is rural or urban.
“This is team South Carolina,” she said.
Jie Jenny Zou • 803-329-4062