Education, health care among Haley's topics

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 16, 2013 at 8:18 pm •  Published: January 16, 2013
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Rutherford argued South Carolina can implement such things and still expand Medicare to provide coverage to the state's neediest residents. The federal government promises to fully fund the increase for the first three years.

Haley also said she'd never support raising the gas tax to pay for road and bridge work.

"The citizens of South Carolina deserve to drive on roads that aren't littered with potholes and on bridges they know won't fall down," she said.

Investing in the state's roads is also critical to bringing jobs to the state, but raising the state's 16-cents-per-gallon motor fuel tax can't be part of the solution, she said.

The state Department of Transportation estimates needing $1.5 billion yearly over 20 years to bring roads to "good" condition.

Senate Majority Leader Harvey Peeler said he was pleased that Haley highlighted the need.

"It's bothered me for a long time, and I'm losing my patience," said Peeler, R-Gaffney, who frequently complains about road conditions along Interstate 85.

Haley recognized the warden of maximum-security Lee Correctional, where prisoners twice last year took officers' hostage. Haley asked lawmakers to increase money for prisons to upgrade security, including building watch towers at Lee.

House Speaker Bobby Harrell agreed that protecting prison guards is critical, adding it will be part of the budget.

He noted that many of Haley's requests mimic the House GOP caucus' 2013 priorities, including ethics reform, tax cuts, government restructuring and cybersecurity.

Haley acknowledged the state should have done more to protect taxpayers' personal data and pledged to increase cybersecurity across agencies.

Last September, a computer hacker stole the unencrypted personal data of millions of residents' and businesses' tax filings.

"There is no question that what happened at the Department of Revenue was a jolt to all of us," Haley said. "My pledge to the people of our state is that as with all crises, all challenges, we will do everything in our power to come out the other side stronger than before."

The Columbia real estate agent who gave the Democrats' response blasted Haley and revenue's leadership for not doing what was necessary to prevent the hacking. Experts contracted by the state have said encrypting the data or requiring two passwords for those logging into the system remotely would have prevented the theft.

"Their choices have needlessly endangered not only my business and my identity, but also the identity of my children and every other South Carolina tax payer and their family," said Jill Moylan, owner of Home Advantage Realty, selected to give the response normally given by a Democratic legislator.



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