NAME: Gresham Barrett
PARTY AFFILIATION: Republican
CURRENT HOMETOWN: Westminster, South Carolina
EDUCATION: Bachelors from The Citadel
PROFESSION: Former Small Business Owner, U.S. Congressman
MARITAL STATUS/CHILDREN: Married to Natalie for 25 years; Three children; Jeb, Madison & Ross.
POLITICAL EXPERIENCE: SC House of Representatives (1996-2002); U.S. House of Representatives (2003-2010)
HOBBIES: Reading, Cycling
FAVORITE FOOD: Clementine
PETS: Two dogs – Pig and Ballot
(word limit per answer: 400 words)
Q. WHY ARE YOU RUNNING FOR GOVERNOR?
A. President Obama is leading us in a direction America should never go. As someone who's fought him more than almost anyone else, I've learned this: If we're going to take this country back, we're going to do it one state at a time. We can do historic things for South Carolina. We can grow this economy, not through the government sector but through the private sector. We can stand up to an all-intrusive nanny state by cutting taxes, reducing regulations, unlocking our offshore energy potential, and making South Carolina the #1 job destination in the South again.
Q. WHAT SEPARATES YOU FROM THE REST OF THE CANDIDATES?
A. Number one is my experience. I've led soldiers for 4 ½ years. I was a state legislator for six years, a federal legislator for going on eight years now, so I understand both sides. But the biggest difference is that I've been a small businessperson. I understand what it's like to sign the front of the paycheck and not just the back, that you're only as good as your word, and I understand what government does on a daily basis and how it affects the bottom line of the heart and soul of this economy, which is the small businessperson.
Q. WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT ISSUE FACING SOUTH CAROLINA RIGHT NOW? HOW DO YOU INTEND TO ADDRESS IT?
A. Our state is in its worst economic drought since the Great Depression. Factories that were once buzzing with the sounds of progress sit idle. Businesses that once lined the Main Streets of our small towns have been forced to close their doors and board up their windows.
As Governor I will work to grow our economy by taking immediate action to fill the thousands of jobs currently available in South Carolina, overhauling the Department of Commerce, providing comprehensive tax reform, reducing spending, fighting unfunded federal mandates, improving our infrastructure, making South Carolina a leader in energy independence, and promoting tourism.
Q. What mistake in your life do you hope others, especially young people, will learn from?
a. There were times when I felt like I might be ridiculed for expressing my faith. But what I have learned -- and what I would tell young people -- is never be afraid to share your faith.
Q. WHAT'S YOUR PLAN TO CREATE MORE STABLE FUNDING FOR EDUCATION?
A. It is critical that we get more dollars in to the classroom. Let me be clear; I'm not calling for an increase in education spending. What I am advocating is spending the dollars we have more effectively. Right now, only 44% of our education dollars actually make it to the classroom while the rest is lost in the bureaucratic maze. The national average is 65%. As Governor, I will advocate legislation that requires at least 70% of education dollars go directly to the classroom so teachers, students and parents have the resources they need to be successful. We currently have at least 4 different education budgets, 85 school districts, 46 counties and 64 different funding streams for education. As a businessman, I can tell you we need to streamline the funding system to increase its stability.
Q. WHAT REFORMS DO YOU WANT TO MAKE IN THE WAY STATE GOVERNMENT OPERATES?
A. One area that needs major reform is our tax system. Our current tax code punishes success, discourages new businesses from opening in our state and is so complicated that not even a world class team of accountants could figure it out. For too long we have looked for a silver bullet when it comes to taxes. We've tweaked property taxes. We've tinkered with sales taxes. We've adjusted the income tax. And where has that gotten us? The time has come for us to take a comprehensive view of tax reform in South Carolina.
Some changes and savings will be gained through restructuring. But with recent and severe budget cuts, it is going to be challenging to see large savings from restructuring alone, and certainly not large enough to correct the tax imbalances towards the private sector. Shifting taxes between different payers, particularly property taxes, is not fair and it rarely creates an economic advantage. All taxes need to be in a fair balance between all payers. This includes regularly evaluating tax incentives, and sunsetting provisions that put the taxpayers of our state at a disadvantage.
As Governor, I will establish a Blue Ribbon Commission of business and legislative leaders to craft legislation that overhauls the state tax code in 2011 with the ultimate goal of reducing the tax burden thereby encouraging economic growth.
Q. (VIEWER SUBMITTED) MY WIFE AND I TRAVEL S.C., N.C., AND GA A LOT AND WE WOULD LIKE TO KNOW WHY S.C. HAS THE WORST ROADS AND STATE PARKS OF ALL THREE?
A. Part of the problem is that South Carolina is a donor state when it comes to transportation funds. That means we send more gas tax dollars to Washington than we receive back to fund our roads and bridges. Right now I'm working with Senator DeMint on a concept called devolution, which would allow South Carolina to keep all its gas tax funds and spend them as we see fit.
Q. (VIEWER SUBMITTED) IF IT SHOULD COME TO YOUR DESK, WOULD YOU SIGN A BILL ALLOWING SAME SEX MARRIAGE IN SOUTH CAROLINA?
A. No. I firmly believe marriage is a holy institution between one man and one woman.
Q. (VIEWER SUBMITTED) What is your plan to bring new jobs to South Carolina? What do you plan to do to alleviate the thousands of people who are out of work, and whose unemployment benefits will soon be running out?
A. In January, I unveiled a detailed, comprehensive plan to put South Carolina back to work. Under our plan, we will take immediate action to fill the thousands of jobs currently available in South Carolina, overhaul the Department of Commerce, provide comprehensive tax and incentive reform, reduce discretionary spending, fight unfunded federal mandates and unfair labor laws, improve our infrastructure, make South Carolina a leader in energy independence, and promote tourism. You can read the Putting South Carolina Back to Work plan at http://www.greshambarrett.com/home/jobs-plan/.
Q. WHAT'S THE BEST THING ABOUT LIVING IN SOUTH CAROLINA?
A. I'd say it has to be the people. I've been blessed to travel across this country and nowhere have I found kinder, more-caring people than the citizens of our State.
Q. WHAT'S ONE THING THAT VOTERS MAY NOT KNOW ABOUT YOU?
A. I am a huge John Wayne fan.
Q. IF ELECTED, WHAT IS THE FIRST THING YOU'LL DO ONCE YOU TAKE OFFICE?
A. I will immediately begin implementing our Putting South Carolina Back to Work Jobs Plan.
Q. (VIEWER SUBMITTED) IF ELECTED, WHAT FORM OF EMPLOYMENT DO YOU PLAN TO PURSUE AFTER YOU LEAVE OFFICE?