NAME: Jim Rex
PARTY AFFILIATION: Democrat
CURRENT HOMETOWN: Winnsboro, SC
EDUCATION: Bachelor's degree – English – University of Toledo; Master's Degree – Education Administration – University of Toledo; Doctorate – Curriculum and Instruction – University of Toledo
MARITAL STATUS/CHILDREN: Wife, Sue; Four children: Adam, Nathan, Jeff, and Siri
POLITICAL EXPERIENCE: State Superintendent of Education, 2007-present
HOBBIES: Working on my farm, fishing, hunting, reading, spending time with my family
(word limit per answer: 400 words)
Q. WHY ARE YOU RUNNING FOR GOVERNOR?
A. South Carolina needs a new direction. Our current leadership has failed, and the petty bickering, extreme partisanship and seemingly endless distractions have crippled our state government, which right now delivers way too little for what it spends.
I am running because South Carolina needs a Turnaround Governor. My turnaround mission will be to create jobs and a growing economy, a government committed to accountability and living within its means, a state committed to improving schools, and leadership that accurately reflects our values. For too long, our government has been distracted and defined by narrow special interests, and it's time to put our people first.
Q. WHAT SEPERATES YOU FROM THE REST OF THE CANDIDATES?
A. I have more executive experience – actually managing people, programs, and dollars, than all of the candidates – Democrat and Republican combined.
Q. WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT ISSUE FACING SOUTH CAROLINA RIGHT NOW? HOW DO YOU INTEND TO ADDRESS IT?
A. Jobs. Attracting good wage new jobs to South Carolina will not happen if we are not aggressively preparing our workforce, so we must continue to strengthen our advantages in areas of higher education, workforce training/retraining, and research. Our state's strong technical college system and our universities must be active participants in a coordinated effort to identify which industries are suited for the different regions of our state and to provide the educational programs necessary to prepare a highly skilled workforce for those targeted jobs.
We must also fix our broken tax system. It is inadequate and doesn't support our essential needs or provide revenue in a transparent, stable, fair way. We've known this tax system has been broken for 30 years but we've never had the political will to address it. I have championed raising our cigarette tax to the national average to fund education and health care. I believe we should repeal Act 388 in the context of a comprehensive tax overhaul that provides equitable funding for our state's most urgent priorities. We need a tax code that rewards work and investment. We need to modernize our sales tax base to include some services and review and close sales tax loopholes. Read more about my jobs plan here:
Q. What mistake in your life do you hope others, especially young people, will learn from?
a. When I graduated from high school, I didn't go directly to college. no one in my family had ever gone to college, and none of my friends went, and I didn't see it on my horizon. I worked construction and worked in a factory before I realized the importance of education for getting ahead. for someone from my background to become a teacher, a college president, and now and candidate for governor, shows me – and I hope shows others – the power of a public education. we must provide that for all south Carolinians.
Q. WHAT'S YOUR PLAN TO CREATE MORE STABLE FUNDING FOR EDUCATION?
A. I believe we must reform our system of funding public education in South Carolina to create a new, student-centered funding system with the state assuming a larger percentage of funding for public education. As State Superintendent of Education, I introduced a comprehensive plan called, "Begin in 10," that has been stalled in the Legislature. If I am Governor, I will do everything in my power to use the bully pulpit of my office to bring this issue to the fore and put pressure on the General Assembly to adopt this plan. The plan may be viewed online at www.ed.sc.gov.
Q. WHAT REFORMS DO YOU WANT TO MAKE IN THE WAY STATE GOVERNMENT OPERATES?