On Wednesday night, Gov. McMaster gave his first “State of the State” address. In the end, what he offered felt like little more than pandering and empty promises—albeit with a handshake and a smile.
While speaking of “New Prosperity” and broad tax cuts, he conveniently omitted that the proposed cuts would largely benefit those who already enjoy higher incomes and would likely result in deep cuts to key state services. He also did not mention any reforms or protections to keep families hard-earned dollars in their own hands by protecting consumers from predatory business practices, like high-interest loans.
On the topic of education, his signature proposals were to place an armed officer, in every school, “all day, every day,” and to continue shifting state dollars away from traditional public schools to fund the expansion of the charter school program. In the words of our Executive Director, Sue Berkowitz, our response to this is simple, “Our schools do not need more resources officers…they need more resources!”
Gov. McMaster also returned to his common theme of “sanctuary cities” and once again attempted to characterize all immigrants in South Carolina as criminals and bad elements of our society. Instead, we know immigrants to be valued and valuable members of communities across the state who work hard, pay taxes and, most of all, love their families. Furthermore, South Carolina already has laws in place which prohibit “sanctuary cities,” either explicitly or in practice, so any further emphasis in this area only serves one purpose—to waste state funds and promote fear and bigotry. We hope the General Assembly will see past these petty attempts at dog-whistle politics to address the real issues affecting the lives of South Carolinians each day.
In these and other areas, it is clear that Gov. McMaster has simply missed the mark, but to be fair there is at least one issue on which we can agree. Whatever path forward the state is to take following the V.C. Summer plant debacle, “the interests of the ratepayers must come first.”
As we stand here at the beginning of 2018, we do hope to see an era of “New Prosperity,” but not in the form of false, trickle-down jargon, but a true expansion of opportunity and equality for all South Carolinians, then—and only then—will South Carolina truly be a place we can all be proud to call home.