In her first State of the State address, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley
promised to make the "tough but right decisions" to overcome challenges that include budget shortfalls of close to $1 billion. While she offered some specific policies -- and said more would follow in the coming weeks -- Haley also reiterated the familiar themes of smaller government and spending reform that helped her become South Carolina's first woman governor.
At the state house in Columbia on Wednesday evening, Haley echoed Ronald Reagan's sentiment that "as government expands, liberty contracts." The role of government, she said, is "to secure the rights and freedoms of our people." It was "never intended to be all things to all people."
Haley has always opposed the federal health care reform law
, which the House on Wednesday voted to repeal. She said she would support the South Carolina attorney general's legal action against the legislation, which she called a "looming disaster," and recalled a conversation she had recently with President Obama in Washington, asking him to consider repealing the law. "He quickly told me 'no,'" she said.
Among the challenges the state faces is a $228 million budget shortfall in the Department of Health and Human Services, which administers Medicaid. It has said it will have to stop making payments to doctors in March. In her address, Haley asked that the state strike the proviso prohibiting the HHS director from setting rates paid to providers through Medicaid, and proposed that Medicaid be allowed to use generic medications for AIDS, cancer and mental health treatment.
Haley also suggested cutting $2.5 million used to fund an arts commission she said the state can no longer afford, and $9.5 million to ETV, the public television station that was live-streaming her address.
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