SC Gov. Henry McMaster used his first State of the State address to voice his desire to cut taxes and veto any bills that leave customers paying for the state’s failed nuclear projects on Wednesday night, Jan. 24.

“I will do whatever it takes to continue the success we see today, to keep and enhance our competitive edge,” McMaster said.

During his 45-minute speech, McMaster pointed to the federal tax overhaul as evidence that it is “more important than ever” for legislators to cut state income taxes. His executive budget proposes a $2.2 billion tax cut over five years, which an analysis by the state Revenue and Fiscal affairs office says would save the average state taxpayer $300 per year.

As for the failed V.C. Summer nuclear plant project, McMaster continued to say he will veto any bill that makes customers continue to pay for its $9 billion debt. SCE&G customers pay 18 percent of their bill toward the paydown. And there continues to be a search for a buyer for state-owned Santee Cooper, which holds around $8 billion in debt.

“I have informed all of these interested purchasers that the State will not consider any proposal which saddles the customers or taxpayers with Santee Cooper’s debt.”

McMaster’s remarks about education were strongly tied to job creation; for students to have the skills for jobs of the future, and for their parents to have opportunities today.

“Poverty is the enemy of education,” he said.

Along with touting new jobs and economic development (17,000 new jobs from more than 120 economic development projects, with nearly $5 billion in capital investment), he did voice opposition to recent plans by the Department of the Interior to explore offshore drilling along the Atlantic coast.

“It is incompatible with everything we have and do on our coast.”

And he called for action this legislative session on fixing the state pension system. McMaster does want to exempt from state income taxes the pension benefits of retired military veterans, first responders and firefighters, beginning July 1.
Text of Henry McMaster’s State of the State Address