Haley focuses on port, jobs in State of the State address

South Carolina Governor Haley's State of the State Address

Mary Ann Chastain

abird@postandcourier.com

COLUMBIA -- Gov. Nikki Haley vowed to get the necessary funding to deepen the Port of Charleston this year at her State of the State speech this evening.

Criticized for a controversial Department of Health and Environmental Control board decision approving Georgia's plan to deepen the Savannah River, Haley said this year's executive budget would include a port infrastructure fund.

"I have said it before, and I will say it again: I am not afraid of a 48-foot Georgia port, 36 miles up the Savannah River, confined to one-way traffic," she said. "You should not be either."

Haley credited the Port of Charleston for luring new businesses to the state.

"Let's quit bickering and work together to see Charleston return to its greatness, Jasper have a future, and Georgetown have a purpose," she said.

Haley's remarks Wednesday night often spoke directly to the Lowcountry.

She called Boeing's North Charleston "the greatest economic development success the Palmetto State had celebrated in almost two decades" and congratulated Charleston Mayor Joe Riley in ousting San Francisco as the top tourist destination in the country.

Haley's speech focused on growing jobs across the state, where the unemployment rate recently fell below double-digits. She said that by the end of January state government will unveil a restructured workforce training program.

Haley pledged to fight unions, to phase out the corporate income tax and to create an accountability-based program for funding higher education.

She pledged to continue to fight against federal takeover of the state healthcare system and said members of the General Assembly should receive the same retirement benefits as state employees.

Haley touched on the reasoning behind her criticized telephone greeting - "It's a great day in South Carolina" -- calling its opposition the greatest example of negativity seen statewide.

Read more later at postandcourier.com and also in tomorrow's newspaper.