COLUMBIA, S.C. (WSPA)—In what’s expected to be her final State of the State address, Gov. Nikki Haley looked back on her six years in office and thanked the people of South Carolina. “The state of our state is blessed,” she told a joint assembly of the South Carolina House and Senate at the Statehouse Wednesday night.
She’s been nominated to be U.S. ambassador to the United Nations in the Trump administration. Her confirmation hearing will be in Washington on January 18th.
“What a road we have traveled together,” she said. “There have been good days, and there have been trying ones. There have been wins and losses, progress and setbacks, joys and frustrations. There have been times of great celebration and those of deep, devastating mourning. As I have thought back on it all, one thing has become so clear to me: serving as governor of the State of South Carolina is the greatest honor of my life.”
She talked about the tragedies and disasters the state has gone through, from two winter storms, a hurricane and a thousand-year flood, to a 6-year-old boy being shot and killed at school in Townville, to Walter Scott being shot by a police officer, and nine members of Emanuel AME Church in Charleston being shot by Dylann Roof after a Bible study.
“I spoke earlier of my dear desire to see the image of South Carolina changed for the better. Standing here tonight, I can say with every confidence that it has happened, that that desire has been fulfilled. But not because of me. The people of South Carolina accomplished the highest aspiration I had for our state all on their own.
“They did it by showing the entire world what love and acceptance looks like. They did it by displaying for all to see the power of faith, of kindness, and of forgiveness. They did it by stepping up to every challenge, through every tragedy, every time. And in so doing, the people of South Carolina changed our image in a way no piece of legislation or shift in policy or job announcement could have ever accomplished,” she said.
State of the state speeches are when governors usually lay out their agendas for the coming year, but since she’s not expecting to be in office much longer, the only things she asked lawmakers to do dealt with education: to make the state education superintendent a position appointed by the governor instead of elected by the people; and to continue efforts to improve schools so that children’s chances of getting a good education don’t depend on where they live.
Sen. Karl Allen, D-Greenville, said after the speech, “When she talked about educating children, it being a moral issue to give them a quality education no matter where they live in the state, that is something that we fought for and have been fighting for for years.”
She did not mention the years-long fight over fixing state roads, but Democrats did in their official response. Sen. Tom McElveen, D-Sumter, said, “It’s time for our legislators and our soon-to-be new Governor to zero in on a plan that will include a stream of revenue that’s exclusively dedicated to restoring, improving, and maintaining our infrastructure so that our roads will be safe, and so that South Carolina will remain a place that’s competitive with our neighboring states and a state where people want to do business. Our reputation as a wonderful place to do business will inevitably rise or fall in proportion to our willingness to take care of our infrastructure. Our reputation as the “Beast of the Southeast” when it comes to economic development will erode right along with our roads if we do not take immediate steps to fix what we all know is a major problem.”
Sen. Kevin Bryant, R-Anderson, said after the speech, “I think she will be remembered as a governor
who brought people together, a governor who worked through tragedies and disasters.”
Sen. Harvey Peeler, R-Gaffney, one of Gov. Haley’s biggest supporters in the legislature, said, “I’m saddened to see Governor Haley leave but I’m comforted by the fact that our new governor will be Henry McMaster. He’s up to the task.”