For the past the 14 and a half years, South Carolina’s government has been under complete Republican control. When asked what they seek to accomplish with their power, Republicans most often talk about making South Carolina the best state in the nation for business. They say that if our state gives companies whatever they want, prosperity will follow.
In 2015, then-Governor Haley said, “Any state can say they have the best business climate, but hands down we are the best.” That is an admirable goal that we should all try to achieve. With our resources and people, South Carolina should be the greatest state for business in the world.
But according to CNBC’s newly released “America’s Top States for Business” 2017 rankings, Nikki Haley is wrong: South Carolina not the best state for business; we aren’t even in the top half. Our neighbors in North Carolina and Georgia are in the top 5. And it is even worse when you look at wages, with South Carolina all the way down at #44, because of utter wage stagnation over the past decade. If business is their standard, Republicans are failing.
Looking at the CNBC rankings, the category that weighs us down the most is education, where they have us ranked #40. More than 800,000 South Carolinians are currently in our elementary, middle and high schools, and public colleges. Our schools are critical to recruiting business by providing skilled workers who can do the 21st century jobs that pay well and are secure for our families.
There is no replacement in a strong economy for a state-of-the-art public education system. But in the last decade and a half, Republicans haven’t even tried to fund or reform our public education system that is failing wide swaths of South Carolina’s students.
South Carolinians deserve better. It’s not about who’s right or wrong; it is about starting a new conversation to earn people’s trust, and to elect leaders who will try to create a better South Carolina for every one of us. Our education system is failing too many South Carolina businesses and people—and that should be unacceptable. Republicans haven’t figured that out. They’ve had their chance. South Carolina Democrats have proven time and again we fight for schools, workers and businesses, and we need your help to spread that word.
Richland County Treasurer