TEXT: Democratic response to 2011 State of the State Address

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - The following is the complete text of the Democratic response to Governor Nikki Haley's State of the State Address, delivered January 19, 2011:

Good evening. I am State Senator Brad Hutto from Orangeburg. For the last decade things haven't changed, Republicans have absolutely and totally controlled state government and public policy in South Carolina--from the governor's office to the overwhelming Republican majorities in the legislature.

During that time, our state has listened to the same old rhetoric and recycled ideas- over and over again.  And just look where it has gotten us.

-We've seen financial waste and abuse, over and over again.

-We've seen the same political hacks appointed to positions of power, over and over again.

-We've seen – record high unemployment, a public education system in crisis, sick and elderly being denied care, and embarrassing news stories about many of our state's leaders, over and over again.

Basically, the only thing that seems to change are the names in the never ending scandals that one party rule has brought us.

If you like what you've seen in South Carolina's government over the last decade, then you should be happy.

But if you believe we can do better (and we can do better)- then it is my honor tonight to outline a new way forward.  We need real reform- not just the sound bites we have listened to for so, so long.

The Democratic agenda is one of accountability and openness.

Number 1) Democrats believe no government officials should be able to hide behind special privileges. No good comes from this continued secrecy.  Democrats will be offering plans to hold our government officials accountable.  You, the voters, deserve a full accounting of what we're doing.

Number 2) Employees in the Governor's office or elected officials' offices in state government should not receive pay increases during this time of financial crisis.  The large pay increases given by Governor Haley to her staff should be refunded immediately to set an example for all the hard working state employees who have been asked to do even more while having their pay cut.

Number 3) during these tough budget times, the legislature and governor should ensure that no teachers are laid off.  Retaining teachers in the classrooms should be the first priority in public education

Number 4) With an historic budget gap, your General Assembly will have to make tough spending decisions.  In order to hear your voice state budget hearings must be held across South Carolina - not just within the Columbia beltway - so that our citizens can give input on spending priorities and so that sunshine can light the process.

These very simple priorities will help to clean up the mess that has been created by the one party domination of our state for so very long.   I once was told that you can't fall out of a ditch--- but you can sure climb your way out.   With openness, accountability, and a commitment to restoring trust in government we can begin to climb out of the ditch we've been stuck in for far too long.  We hope that Governor Haley will embrace these principles, and if she does in her actions and not just her words, we stand ready to lend our support for a better South Carolina.

Thank you.

Good night and may God bless South Carolina.

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