Haley talks priorities and plan for second year in office

Haley spoke for about 20 minutes then took questions from the audience. / Lindsey Theis

Governor Nikki Haley wrapped up a town hall tour in Florence Tuesday night.

Haley spoke to more than 60 people at the Francis Marion University Performing Arts Center.

Haley started the tour two weeks ago to unveil grades she issued for legislators on how they've handled her legislative priorities.

"We want you to praise them. It's hard to work in Columbia. So when you see them doing the right thing, you need to praise them," Haley said. "The goal is not to slap them on the hand. The goal is to give them a dialogue."

She used the stops to promote the agenda she'll be trying to get through the South Carolina Legislature next year.

Haley said her first priority was simple.

"Jobs, jobs, jobs, that's all I am focused on. If you can give a person a job, you can feed a family," she said.

She said she planned to continue to push for South Carolina to remain a right to work state and urged big employers to hire locals for work and contract with local small businesses. Haley also said she hopes to focus on job training programs and creating a community initiative in rural areas next year.

"We are going to pick a challenged county every month," she said.

From there, the governor said her office would meet with the chamber and local service organizations and asses the needs of the county. They would then have a county day where volunteers, including medical professionals, would come out and serve those in need. From there she said hopefully local groups could do the rest.

"Just because they are in a rural area doesn't mean there isn't a place for them in these tough economic times," Haley said.

The Republican governor announced plans for the report cards in March. Some legislators called it a political ploy. Fewer than half the Senate and more than half of the House made the honor roll.

Other items Haley's agenda includes tax cuts for businesses. She said she plans to ask state lawmakers to approve tax cuts each year, but this year's plan includes phasing out corporate income tax, simplifying individual income tax from six brackets to three, and lowering manufacturing tax.

Haley also plans on wrapping up work on legislation that creates a new cabinet-level Department of Administration. She hopes to lower the state's debt by urging the state legislature to approve more of her spending vetoes. She also says that the state owes $970 million to the federal government that they've used to pay for unemployment. She says South Carolina can pay off that debt by 2014.

"We no longer give 26 weeks. We give 20. Seasonal employees do not get unemployment any more."

Do you agree with these priorities? Do you think that Haley should be focusing on something else? Also, what do you think of her plans for her to-do list? Leave a comment below.

The AP contributed to this report.