In the Democratic response to Gov. Nikki Haley’s State of the State address Wednesday evening, State Sen. Thomas McElveen, D-Sumter, criticized issues he believes the governor failed to significantly address in her six years and bemoaned a “cloud of corruption charges” that hangs over the Statehouse following recent arrests of Republican legislators.
McElveen spent much of his time on infrastructure — and, specifically, finding a long-term plan for repairing South Carolina’s aging highway system. “We must solve this problem in a manner that not only restores the highways and roads that lead to our larger cities and urban areas, but in a way that also lends the same support to the rural communities throughout South Carolina,” he said. “And we need to start right now.”
McElveen added Republicans and Democrats must work together to fix the chronic problem of bad roads.
He also continued traditional Democratic criticisms of Haley and her fellow Republicans for not expanding South Carolina’s Medicaid eligibility under the Affordable Care Act. The new eligibility requirements took effect in Haley’s first year of office, but she and other GOP lawmakers have argued the state could not afford the additional enrollees, even with a 90 percent federal match.
“If we truly want to do right by our constituents, we cannot turn a blind eye to the state of public health here in South Carolina,” he said.
He also referenced a “cloud of corruption charges” and said South Carolinians demand honesty and integrity from its leaders, not “public trust (that) has been violated in exchange for personal gain among the people who are charged with running this state.” The comment was almost certainly in reference to last month’s indictment of State Rep. Jim Merrill, R-Charleston, for unreported money his firm received from groups whose legislation he sponsored. However, it was likely also a reference to an ongoing ethics-related investigation by First Circuit Solicitor David Pascoe and the recent resignations of former Republican House Speaker Bobby Harrell and ex-Lieutenant Governor Ken Ard.
McElveen did extend courtesy to Haley in thanking her for her service to the state and extended “our best wishes” to her next career as United Nations ambassador.