Wendell Gilliard has high hopes for this new year, but most people haven't stopped laughing at the state long enough to notice.

Right now, the Charleston state lawmaker is making the rounds -- showing up on CNN, the Rachel Maddow show -- because of a bill he's cosponsored with Rep. John King.

You see, the two Democrats want to stop state agencies from answering the phone "It's a great day in South Carolina" because, well, it isn't.

It's not surprising the national media are all over this; the lunacy factor is too high to ignore. Not on Gilliard's part, but the governor's.

In a year when Nikki Haley has stepped in one steaming pile of pluff mud after another, the "It's a great day" schtick is not her worst gaffe, but it is perhaps the silliest.

But Gilliard says his goal for pushing this particularly simple bill isn't to keep South Carolina in the center ring of the national sideshow.

He would like the state to bow out of the spotlight of shame.

Tall order

You have to read the bill to understand what he means.

It says that no state agency or department may be required to use the governor's sappy, sunny greeting so long as certain conditions exist in South Carolina. They are:

--So long as the state's unemployment rates equals or exceeds 5 percent. It's at about 10 percent now.

--As long as there are South Carolina residents who don't have health insurance. Right now, about 866,000 of the state's 4.5 million souls are uninsured, according to state estimates.

--Until state funding for K-12 and higher education is sufficient to prepare kids for the 21st century. Seeing as how education funding has been cut by more than $750 million in the last couple of years, that's a problem.

--And our rural infrastructure has to be adequate to allow all counties to compete for business and industry. That's going to be pretty tough.

Still, Gilliard says this is not a pie in the sky list drawn up for partisanship, or to embarrass the governor.

"We are trying to tell the General Assembly that this is what we need to focus on," Gilliard says.

He's right. A little more meat and potatoes, and fewer partisan appetizers, would go a long way toward making South Carolina better.

Not an option?

It's good to start the new year with a bit of optimism.

That's something the governor -- who apparently cribs her speeches from third-grade motivational posters -- should be all about. In fact, Gilliard says that rather than being confrontational, he would like her to help out.

"If she really wants it to be a great day in South Carolina, let's sit down and make it one," he says.

South Carolina could use a little bipartisanship, and it's a nice sentiment for this New Year's Day.

And even though that sort of cooperation hasn't been seen here in recent years, there's still hope. After all, tomorrow is another day.

It would be nice if, when it comes to tackling the state's toughest problem, "Can't" really wasn't an option.

Reach Brian Hicks at bhicks@postandcourier.com or follow him on Twitter at @BriHicks_PandC.