Enquirer Herald

Gov. Haley's report cards favor Republicans

While some lawmakers made Gov. Nikki Haley's "A Team," others - all Democrats - failed on her legislative report card for not backing her agenda.

To a room of nearly 200 people at Winthrop University on Monday night, the first-term Republican implored lawmakers to support her goals - some incomplete and some yet to come to the S.C. House and Senate floors.

Haley made Rock Hill her first stop on a statewide tour to reveal the report card and garner support for her agenda before next year's legislative session begins in January.

She called the report card "nonpartisan" - however, all 37 F's went to Democrats. The lowest grade any Republican earned was a D.

Among the Legislature's 67 Democrats, one - Sen. Yancey McGill of Williamsburg - received an A from Haley. Two Democrats earned B's and a few received C's - but most got D's and F's

The 102 Republicans in the Legislature got mostly A's and B's, with four C's and four D's.

An hour before Haley's event, two Senate Democrats graded the governor herself, giving her four F's - in job creation, honesty, government restructuring and transparency - and two A-plusses - in hypocrisy and pay-to-play politics.

Sens. Creighton Coleman of Winnsboro, who represents much of southern York County, and Brad Hutto of Orangeburg issued their report on the sidewalk in front of the Winthrop's DiGiorgio Campus Center.

Hutto admitted both report cards amounted to "Mickey Mouse theatrics," but he said Democrats couldn't allow the governor's grade to go unanswered.

"She is part of the failure going on here," Hutto said.

Hutto and Coleman criticized Haley for:

The state's 11.1 percent unemployment rate in August

Her opposition to providing tax incentives for an Amazon.com facility in Lexington County

Ignoring a commission designed to explore tax reform

Haley returned the critique.

"While I'm trying to get people back to work, they continue to criticize," she said later. "This is not a game."

Haley fielded questions from audience members who expressed frustration with cuts to education and arts programs and poor options for affordable health care.

Implementing a pay-for-performance system for teachers, in which principals help set the standards, is one of Haley's goals for improving the schools. Teachers must also be "empowered" so they stick around, she said.

The governor also announced new initiatives she'll add to her agenda next year, including simplifying the state tax code, scrutinizing spending by state employees and reforming the state pension plan. But her top priority is still "jobs, jobs, jobs."

Haley said college students unable to find jobs and retirees hoping to return to work have expanded the workforce, outpacing job growth.

She promised "intense job training" was on the way to prepare college graduates, retirees and other job seekers for success. Claiming 13,000 jobs since January, she predicted unemployment would drop.

When asked when York County could see a big jobs announcement, Haley highlighted recent announcements in rural areas such as Dillon and Chesterfield counties. She said she's working on some projects in York County but can't discuss them. It was roughly the same reply Haley gave when asked about York County jobs in April, when she came to Rock Hill to review her first 100 days in office.

Local legislators grades

Rep. Greg Delleney, R-Chester - A

Rep. Deborah Long, R-Indian Land - A

Rep. Dennis Moss, R-Gaffney - A

Rep. Ralph Norman, R-Rock Hill - A

Sen. Harvey Peeler, R-Gaffney - A

Rep. Tommy Pope, R-York - A

Rep. Gary Simrill, R-Rock Hill - A

Sen. Wes Hayes, R-Rock Hill - B

Sen. Creighton Coleman, D-Winnsboro - C

Rep. John King, D-Rock Hill - F

Sen. Greg Gregory, R-Lancaster - No grade*

* Gregory was elected in a special election in April, when the legislative session was more than half complete.

Video: Haley at Winthrop

Video: Dems grade Haley