Haley and Sheheen Trade Jabs

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WOLO) – Two candidates for governor are sounding off on layoffs at the Department of Employment and Workforce. This is continued reaction about job cuts and other changes that were first reported by ABC Columbia News.

Representative Nikki Haley says, “One question everyone has said was where was the red flag?” Haley is blaming her opponent in the governor’s race, Senator Vincent Sheheen, for letting the state’s unemployment trust fund go broke. Haley says Sheheen was warned two years ago that the trust fund, which is run by the state’s unemployment agency and used to pay benefits for the jobless, was being depleted. She says Sheheen did nothing. Sheheen says that’s not true. He responds, “In 2008 and early 2009, I joined with 18 senators of both parties to request an audit of the Employment Security fund.”

The former Employment Security Commission which has recently been renamed the Department of Employment and Workforce or DEW has been through a number of changes lately. Last month, ABC Columbia News was the first to report, that 31 area directors have been told they are losing their jobs and in nine months, one-stop job centers will no longer be operated by DEW.

But Haley or Sheheen could change the direction of the agency, if elected, because DEW has recently become a cabinet agency, run by the governor.

Haley says, “What I’m in favor of is privatizing all our workforce centers. We’ve got pilots in the Upstate that are doing phenomenal. When you allow them to have contracts, they have to put people to work or they lose the contract, so there’s a great incentive there.”

While Haley is in favor of privatizing more local one stops, Sheheen stopped short of that, but he did not rule it out, saying a different approach should be taken to layoffs. Sheheen says, “I think what we need to do is make sure those folks in the office are kept on the ground to help unemployed citizens. We need to look further up the food chain into the bureaucracy to see where we can save money in that program and many programs in state government.”

Sheheen also responded with a counter attack against Haley saying she asked the Employment Security Commission to delay an audit of her family business five years ago. Former commissioner Becky Richardson confirmed to ABC Columbia News that Haley asked and was granted an extension on the audit. Haley says she never asked for the audit to be suspended, but that she did request a delay to give the business more time to gather the required information.