The Republican and Democratic candidates running for South Carolina governor have similar views when it comes to veterans issues in South Carolina.
Both incumbent Governor Henry McMaster and his Democratic challenger State Rep. James Smith, D-Columbia, plan to push for a new Cabinet position addressing veterans services next year. McMaster announced his plan last week while appearing at a “Veterans for McMaster Coalition” event in Columbia.
“This is something that, an idea, a proposition, that I’ve been working on since I entered the Governor’s office and before that, the Lieutenant Governor’s office,” McMaster said.
McMaster said the position “will require very little expenditure” because of the existing Division of Veterans Affairs office in the state Department of Administration. “But this will expand that role, give it bigger visibility and also give it strength so that we can see that we are doing the right thing for our veterans,” he said.
Medal of Honor recipient and retired Major General James Livingston said veterans find South Carolina an appealing place to settle after military life.
“They want to come to a state when they get out of the military where they can get a good job,” Livingston said. “They also want to be appreciated for their service.”
Livingston said states such as Georgia, North Carolina and Louisiana have a similar cabinet office that is a “one-stop-shop” for veterans. The longtime Republican is backing McMaster in the race.
McMaster also said he will continue to push for state income tax exemption for military and first-responder retirees who receive a pension, which Smith also proposed. McMaster’s proposal did not make it through the Legislature this year. McMaster also wants active-duty military to be able to vote if they are deployed out of state and backs in-state tuition for military families. Smith also previously backed the voting and tuition provisions when they came before the state House.
When asked how his proposal was similar or different to Smith’s, McMaster said he was not aware of the details of his opponent’s plan.