Gov. Haley delivers first State of the State, targets issues facing SC

COLUMBIA (WACH, AP) -- The state's leading lady presented her first State of the State address Wednesday just one week after being sworn in as South Carolina's first female and minority governor.

Governor Nikki Haley says South Carolina must stop funding arts programs, consolidate government and quit seeking federal cash.

Haley pledged that she'll work to downsize government. Her specific proposals include eliminating funding to the state Arts Commission and South Carolina Educational Television.

"We will not please everyone with the decisions we make but we must make decisions that do the least amount of harm and have the best long-term effect," Haley said in her address. "And the reality is the role of South Carolina TMs government in the year 2011 can no longer be to fund an Arts Commission that costs us $2.5 million. It cannot be one that funds ETV, costing taxpayers $9.5 million. And it cannot be one that pays taxpayer dollars to lobbyists, costing us $1.2 million a year"

"I look forward to working with her on other ways we can reduce the deficit," says Rep. Ted Vick of Chesterfield.

Haley also wants to save money by allowing Medicaid to fund generic drugs.

"The majority of prescription drugs issued by Medicaid are generic, with three large exceptions: AIDS, cancer, and mental health," she stated. "We propose, following the lead of Senator Kevin Bryant, a pharmacist himself, that we remove the proviso prohibiting the use of generic medications to treat those three afflictions. I realize that this may sting pharmaceutical companies, and some lobbyists, but it is an option that will allow us to realize real savings without compromising the quality of care for our patients."

"I think anything we can do to move forward in problem solving is good," says Sen. Gerald Malloy of Darlington. "I like the fact that she is interested in what the people of South Carolina are interested in."

The Republican governor also asked legislators to work with her, saying voters don't want to watch in-fighting with no real results. Her predecessor, Gov. Mark Sanford, was known for constantly bickering with his fellow Republicans.

She says the state must become financially independent from the federal government.

Wednesday's speech was somewhat of a tone setter for Haley. She has spent the last two months courting legislators' support for changes she wants.

"She had an uplifting speech and had a very optomistic outlook on the state," says Sen. Hugh Leatherman of Florence.

Click here for the entire script of Wednesday's State of the State.

State Senator Brad Hutto of Orangeburg delivered the Democrats' response. He says Haley's goals are more of the same.

"For the last decade things haven TMt changed, Republicans have absolutely and totally controlled state government and public policy in South Carolina--from the governor TMs office to the overwhelming Republican majorities in the legislature," Hutto explains. "During that time, our state has listened to the same old rhetoric and recycled ideas- over and over again. And just look where it has gotten us."

He goes on to draw attention issues such as financial waste, unemployment numbers and scandals.

"Basically, the only thing that seems to change are the names in the never ending scandals that one party rule has brought us," he adds.

Click here to read Hutto's full script from Wednesday's message.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)