NAME: Nikki Haley
PARTY AFFILIATION: Republican
CURRENT HOMETOWN: Lexington, South Carolina
EDUCATION: B.S. in accounting from Clemson University
PROFESSION: Accountant/Small businessperson
MARITAL STATUS/CHILDREN: Married to Michael/Two children, Rena and Nalin.
POLITICAL EXPERIENCE: Elected as state rep. in 2004, re-elected in '06 and '08
HOBBIES: Spending time with my family
FAVORITE FOOD: BBQ
PETS: One dog, Simba.
(word limit per answer: 400 words)
Q. WHY ARE YOU RUNNING FOR GOVERNOR?
A. I am running for governor because South Carolina needs a leader who is dedicated to creating a competitive business environment in our state. For too long, we have allowed a broken tax system, disjointed infrastructure and sub-par schools to paralyze the competitiveness of South Carolina. We need real tax reform that looks at every single tax and fee to determine the effectiveness of each. We need to eliminate the education bureaucracy that ties up the resources needed in the classroom. We need to prioritize infrastructure and expand South Carolina's air, land and water transportation capabilities.
Q. WHAT SEPERATES YOU FROM THE REST OF THE CANDIDATES?
A. I am an accountant and small businessperson who is running for governor to change the state, not to enhance my political career. For my opponents, running for governor is the next political step - they have been running for office for years. I am determined to show the people of South Carolina that government can work for true fiscal conservatism and accountability.
Q. WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT ISSUE FACING SOUTH CAROLINA RIGHT NOW? HOW DO YOU INTEND TO ADDRESS IT?
A. Creating good jobs for South Carolina. Creating jobs starts with reforming the tax system, improving education and developing our infrastructure. As mentioned above, we need to review our entire tax structure and propose a simpler, more business-friendly tax system that will benefit the people of this state. Our education system needs bold leadership that will direct more money straight to the classroom. Currently, we spend $12,000 per year to educate a child in S.C., but only 44 cents of every allotted dollar makes it to the classroom. This is an unacceptable trend that leads to high drop-out rates and lower performance. We must prioritize our infrastructure by strengthening our ports, looking at additional rail capabilities, expanding our air carriers and properly funding our roads.
Q. What mistake in your life do you hope others, especially young people, will learn from?
a. I wish I had gotten involved in the political process at an earlier age. It is crucial that young people get engaged in the process to ensure that their voices are heard.
Q. WHAT'S YOUR PLAN TO CREATE MORE STABLE FUNDING FOR EDUCATION?
A. I have two children in public schools and am fully invested in seeing the quality of our education improve not just for them but for all children in South Carolina. Our students deserve a government that is committed to actually improving our worst in the nation education system, not just throwing dollars at it. Money does not help a child if it has to go through thousands of bureaucrats and 85 school districts to get to the classroom. I went to a rural school in Bamberg where everyone took care of everyone else. I've lived in Orangeburg where teachers struggle so much with discipline they don't have the opportunity to teach – and kids don't have the opportunities to learn. And now I represent Lexington where every public school is like a private one. That disparity is wrong, any way you look at it. We owe it to every child in this state, no matter where they live, to make their education a priority and that means completely reforming our education funding formula.
Q. WHAT REFORMS DO YOU WANT TO MAKE IN THE WAY STATE GOVERNMENT OPERATES?
A. Government exists to serve the people, not the other way around, yet in South Carolina it often feels just the opposite. Despite a recent rule change that's moving us in the right direction, our legislators still vote anonymously more often than not. We can't go online and see how every one of our taxpayer dollars is being spent. We still don't know how – and more importantly, by who – our legislators are being paid. And although our Governor is term limited, our legislators aren't.
These changes are critical if we are going to reform a system of government that, in truth, serves the political class far better than it serves the people of our state. As Governor, I will push for every single vote on the record, for all taxpayer dollars being listed online, for real income disclosures by all legislators, and for term limits. When our elected officials know that the people can see what they are doing it will change the way they conduct business and the policy in this state will begin to move in a direction that we can all be proud of. I have fought and worked to bring accountability and transparency to government, and I won't stop until sunlight shines on every part of the government process.
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. Because we have not properly prioritized our roads. Instead of focusing on our infrastructure capabilities, we have wasted a lot of tax dollars on needless projects. I will implement zero-based budgeting in every cabinet agency to save money that should be spent on school and infrastructure projects.
Q. (VIEWER SUBMITTED) IF IT SHOULD COME TO YOUR DESK, WOULD YOU SIGN A BILL ALLOWING SAME SEX MARRIAGE IN SOUTH CAROLINA?
A. No. Marriage is 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. Creating jobs starts with reforming the tax system, improving education and developing our infrastructure. As mentioned above, we need to review our entire tax structure and propose a simpler, more business-friendly tax system that will benefit the people of this state. Our education system needs bold leadership that will direct more money straight to the classroom. Currently, we spend $12,000 per year to educate a child in S.C., but only 44 cents of every allotted dollar makes it to the classroom. This is an unacceptable trend that leads to high drop-out rates and lower performance. We must prioritize our infrastructure by strengthening our ports, looking at additional rail capabilities, expanding our air carriers and properly funding our roads.
Q. WHAT'S THE BEST THING ABOUT LIVING IN SOUTH CAROLINA?
A. Enjoying our people, our natural resources and our fantastic culture.
Q. WHAT'S ONE THING THAT VOTERS MAY NOT KNOW ABOUT YOU?
A. My favorite thing to do is spend time at the lake with my family.
Q. IF ELECTED, WHAT IS THE FIRST THING YOU'LL DO ONCE YOU TAKE OFFICE?
A. Audit every cabinet agency in my administration to find inefficiencies that cost taxpayers money. I then want to implement zero-based budgeting to ensure that wasteful programs are much harder to create in the future. We have a serious spending problem in state government and the best way to fix it is to force state government to operate like a business.
Q. (VIEWER SUBMITTED) IF ELECTED, WHAT FORM OF EMPLOYMENT DO YOU PLAN TO PURSUE AFTER YOU LEAVE OFFICE?