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Democrats to governor: It's not a great day in South Carolina!

December 1, 2011 |  8:16 am

Haley
Call a state government office in South Carolina these days and the employee on the other end of the line -- prompted by a gubernatorial directive -- will state/chirp/mutter: "It's a great day in South Carolina! How can I help you?"

The idea was cooked up in September by Republican Gov. Nikki Haley, who told The State, the Columbia, S.C., newspaper, that it was meant to boost morale and lend a little peppy sales-team gloss to the more quotidian aspects of governing.

"As hokey as some people may think it is, I'm selling South Carolina as this great, new, positive state that everybody needs to look at," she told the paper.

One smells a setup to a vicious Bill Maher routine here.

In the meantime, a couple of South Carolina Democrats, looking to score some political points, are trying to undo the directive, accusing the governor of fomenting a sense of unwarranted optimism in a state with a 10.5% unemployment rate.

This week, state Reps. Wendell Gilliard and John King introduced House bill 4433, which states:

"No state agency, department, institution, or entity may be required to use a telephone greeting of 'it's a great day in South Carolina' or another similar greeting connoting the advantages of or a general pleasant demeanor in this state so long as any of the following conditions apply:

(1) the state's unemployment rate equals or exceeds five percent;

(2) all citizens of this state do not have health insurance;

(3) state school funding for grades K-12 and for higher education is not sufficient to ensure that all students are prepared for the twenty-first century; or

(4) the rural infrastructure of this State is not adequate to allow rural areas to compete for new business and industry on an equal basis with urban areas of this State."

Got all that, desk jockey at the South Carolina Board of Barber Examiners?

The bill is definitely a bummer, probably a violation of free-speech rights, and it has about as much chance of passing the Republican-controlled House as a statewide ban on cheese grits. Haley was peeved that a reporter from the Charleston Post and Courier even asked her about it.

"Out of all of the legislation proposed and all of the agenda items that we are working on related to jobs and the economy, is this really the bill that your news outlet thinks the people care about?" she asked the paper in an email.

King told the paper that constituents have told him they don't want to hear about what a great day it is when they're calling to get a state death certificate or calling the employment office to find a job.

"Sometimes it's not a great day in their lives," he said.

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-- Richard Fausset

Photo: Gov. Nikki Haley attends event in Greenville, S.C., in which TD Bank announced plans to put a regional hub and create 1,600 new jobs in South Carolina. That may have been a great day, but Democrats say not all days are necessarily great in the state. Credit: Ken Osburn / The Greenville News

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