Democratic state Rep. Bill Clyburn and Republican Shane Massey are on the ballot Tuesday, seeking to fill the seat vacated by former state Sen. Tommy Moore. We asked both candidates to identify the top issues facing the 25th District and to sum up their positions. Their responses:
Bill Clyburn: Improving our public schools is by far the greatest issue South Carolina faces. We need to ensure enough resources get to the classroom. We also need to challenge any attempts to drain our tax dollars out of the classroom - whether it be costly private school voucher schemes or bureaucratic inefficiencies. South Carolina's students deserve a quality education.
Shane Massey: We must stop playing politics with education and be open to all ideas that may improve our public education system. Our education system must be held more accountable for money spent, and our resources need to be taken out of bureaucracy and put into the classrooms.
Bill Clyburn: Too many South Carolina families do not have access to affordable health care insurance. Over 800,000 South Carolinians are uninsured - folks earning too much to qualify for state health insurance programs and earn too little to afford costly insurance on the private market. We need to partner with businesses, health care providers and citizens to develop solutions and close this insurance gap.
Shane Massey: Every South Carolinian deserves access to affordable and quality health care. Health care should not be government-mandated, socialized medicine. We can find market-based solutions that allow decisions to be made by the individuals and their doctor.
Crime and Immigration
Bill Clyburn: We now face the growing challenge of the rise in gang activity and illegal immigration. We cannot wait for the federal government; we must act for ourselves and work to resolve these growing problems. Working with local and state law enforcement and giving them the tools to do their job is one critical step we, as state leaders, can take to meet these challenges.
Shane Massey: Congress has dropped the ball on immigration reform. Because other Southeastern states have passed strong laws, South Carolina is becoming a safe-haven for illegal aliens. Illegal immigration must be fought at the state level by linking state and federal law enforcement and increasing penalties on businesses who hire and individuals who harbor and/or transport illegal aliens.
Bill Clyburn: South Carolina has consistently ranked in the top five worst states with high levels of unemployment. These are not just statistics; these are friends and neighbors. South Carolina needs to be more aggressive in recruiting new high-paying jobs and retaining the jobs we already have. This will take cooperation among state leaders, local leaders and South Carolina's business community.
Shane Massey: We can create jobs by building a pro-business environment and reducing the tax burden on working families. Lowering the income tax on individuals and private businesses will energize our economy and spur small business development. We must also stop playing politics with job creation and work together to get the job done.
Bill Clyburn: South Carolinians work hard for the money they earn, and they need to keep more of their money. I'm proud of the property tax relief plan I helped pass. Now homeowners across our state will keep more of their hard-earned dollars. Spending in Columbia must be responsible. We have limited resources, and we need to spend within our means.
Shane Massey: We have to be more responsible with our spending, and government should be restructured for efficiency and effectiveness. We must also clean up government and restore integrity to public service. Only then can we truly shake up Columbia.