Skip directly to content

Haley Veto Override Rally Speech 7/16

on Thu, 07/19/2012 - 01:58
Let’s start with a quiz.
I made it easy.  All the answers are the same.
All you need to know is the name of our group.
WHO are we? (Restore Teacher Salaries)
WHO are we? (Restore Teacher Salaries)
What did we WANT to do? (Restore Teacher Salaries)
What DID we do?
A +
My name is Patrick Hayes. I’m the Director of Restore Teacher Salaries.
It’s a great thing to be, but it’s a bit of a mouthful.
You think that’s bad?  Try this one:
“This is Patrick Hayes.  I represent the 9,000 members of Restore Teacher Salaries.
Is Rep. Doe available?”
Now try it 124 times in one day.
You’d be surprised how often he is available.
And how easy it is to run out of cell phone minutes.
But I don’t have to tell you.
You’ve been working the phones all spring
letting legislators know that lip service to education is not enough anymore.
It’s time for this state to pay its bills to the people doing the heavy lifting in our schools.
The electric bill was paid in full during the recession.
The bus company was paid in full during the recession.
Now it’s our turn.
“Thank you for your service” isn’t cutting it any more.
I had a friend named Mike in high school
He was a little older,
and I flunked my road test…
…3 times.
So anyway, he did most of the driving.
When he’d drop me home, Mike would stick out his hand and say:
“This car doesn’t run on ‘Thank Yous’”
Guess what?
Our schools don’t run on “Thank Yous,” either.
Many people don’t realize that 50% of teachers leave the profession within 5 years
because the pay doesn’t match the work.
Not even close.
And that’s when they actually GET the pay they’re promised.
The salary freezes and furloughs of the last 4 years haven’t helped.
A teacher who started here in Charleston 4 years ago
Has never been paid the amounts she was promised.
She now has purchasing power $1500 lower than when she started.
Next year, she’ll pay 4 ½ percent more for health insurance,
and an extra 1% of salary into the pension fund
to correct decades of mismanagement.
How likely is she to come back this year?
But we had a recession, right?
We’re all in the same boat here.
Guess what?
Private-sector wages in SC rose 9.7% during the recession.
Don’t believe me? 
Ask the people who run this state:
the Chamber of Commerce. 
It’s their number.
So we fought tooth and nail.
We helped the legislature do the right thing.
Statewide, teachers are getting a 2% raise AND a 2% step increase.
More on that in a minute.
But hold on now.
Here comes Nikki Haley to veto $10 million in teacher salaries.
Thank you Gov. Haley.  Thank you very much.
No, seriously.
I owe Nikki Haley a lot.
Truth is, We all do.
I grumbled about budget cuts for years.
With layoffs, salary freezes, furloughs, and bigger class sizes,
these have been discouraging times.
But it wasn’t until Gov. Haley issued her budget proposal
that I woke up and took action.
SC had a billion dollar surplus. 
A billion dollars more than expected. 
Gov. Haley promised that her budget would boost education spending
”You’ll see an increase” was what she said.
Nothing could be further from the truth. 
In truth, her budget cut education by $80 million
while giving away almost as much for corporate tax cuts.
Mind you, our corporate tax rate is one of the lowest in the country.
She wants it to be 0%. 
So that we can compete with powerhouses like Wyoming and South Dakota.
She would have fired teachers and cut salaries
while giving away a surplus that has since grown to $1.4 billion.
I started an online petition called Restore Teacher Salaries
because Nikki Haley made it clear that she had no intention of doing that.
In fact, when asked about my movement,
she said, referring to Federal Stimulus dollars:
This is what happens when you use one-time money for recurring expenses. 
At some point it's going to go down,
and at some point the complaints are going to start.”
Let me translate that:
Our salaries should have been frozen two years earlier,
thousands more teachers should have been laid off,
and kids should have been stacked up like cordwood in our classrooms.
Because it’s better to default on your bills now, when you have the money,
on the off chance that you might not have it later.
At least she’s consistent.
She’s using the same tortured logic to defend this veto four months later.
Thanks to that attitude
Restore Teacher Salaries grew quickly to over 9,000 members.
So let’s say it again, this time with feeling:
“Thank you Gov. Haley.  Thank you very much,”
Your turn…(”Thank you Gov. Haley.  Thank you very much!”)
Meanwhile, the House of Representatives offered teachers a 2% raise
leaving many of us two years behind on the salaries we were promised
before step increases were frozen.
The Senate Finance Committee also gave teachers a 2% raise,
while setting aside 3% for other state workers
 and 5% for SLED agents.
We were told that other state workers, don’t get step increases
and SLED agents were leaving to do other jobs.
So I thought to myself,
I said, “Self… I bloody well don’t think so.”
Restore Teacher Salaries organized a massive call-in campaign. 
Our 9,000 members reminded key Senators that step increases had been frozen for two years,
and 50% of teachers quit within 5 years because the pay doesn’t match the work. 
Members who called Tuesday morning were given reasons, stories, and excuses.
I really do think of you all as friends,
but one member in particular is a very dear friend. 
She’s done more for me, my family, and Restore Teacher Salaries,
than you can even imagine.
When she called the Senate around 9am,
She was told that she was getting less than other state workers
because she’d been getting step increases.
That was news to her.
Now I know this woman, and I was not in the room, but I have some idea what happened next on that phone.
A few thousand other people made the same call.
By 4 o’clock when her Dad called the same office,
They told him,
“It’s being taken care of.”
That’s more like it! 
By Thursday, we had a budget amendment
that required districts to restore step increases. 
For most teachers, this meant a 4% increase.
I like having 9,000 friends.
One of the best friends a SC teacher has is House Minority Leader Harry Ott.
He’s been behind us from the start.
In the end, it was his leadership that brought this Senate amendment
through the House.
Four-thousand of my friends live in Charleston County.
Here, by speaking up, maintaining a presence, and lobbying behind the scenes,
we persuaded the school board to honor the promises made to teachers.
After four years of freezes and furloughs, we’ll see a 6% increase next year.
Pop-quiz…Midterm…..WHO ARE WE? ……WHAT DID WE DO?
Now, Nikki Haley has come back on the scene to veto $10 million
that was set aside to pay for teacher salaries.
Thank you Gov. Haley.  Thank you very much.
Not only did you kickstart Restore Teacher Salaries,  
now you’re helping me make the case that our work must go on.
Today, I’m launching a new organization called EdFirst. 
Our website is
We’re here to empower the vast majority of South Carolinians
who care deeply about public schools.
Our commitment to education comes first, before partisan politics. 
Neither our problems nor their solutions belong to any one party. 
They belong to all of us, together.
E Pluribus Unum…out of many, one.
When I started working on teacher salaries,
I started pulling out threads on tax structure… funding formulas…and merit pay.
Each of these played a role in explaining why teachers were being thrown under the bus
year after year.
Let’s just look at tax structure…
not tax rates,
although we do have the lowest combination of state and local taxes in the country.
That’s not the only distinction we hold.
Many people don’t realize that SC cut more from education during the recession
 than any other state…24.1%.
We now spend 76 cents on every dollar we used to spend.
That’s a scandal, but it’s also a mystery.
The other 49 states had a recession, too. 
Why did SC cut so much more?
Who was to blame?
The biggest answer to “why” is that we started funding schools from sales tax
On the eve of a recession. 
When spending plummeted, so did revenue.
Turns out, when poor people lose their jobs,
They don’t stop flipping houses.
They stop buying stuff.
As for who is to blame,
E Pluribus Unum.
Everything our leaders do is done in our name. 
These decisions were as popular as they were misguided.
Some of us encouraged these decisions.
Others allowed them through our silence.
We’re all done with that.
The responsibility for fixing it belongs to all of us. 
EdFirst is here to empower people who care about our schools and the children in them.
We’ll help members engage with the political process, and leaders of both parties,
to create a more supportive political climate for public education.
We’ll do that with lobbying… activism…and campaign support.
We’ll work to keep people in office who support strong schools
And remove those who do not.
Who were we just talking about?  Oh that's right, Nikki Haley.
By vetoing $10 million in funding for teacher salaries,
while signing off proudly on tax breaks for some of our wealthiest citizens,
She has thrown down a gauntlet.
Not to teachers, but to her own party.
It’s time for Republicans to decide if they will stand up for teachers
and override that veto,
or join Gov. Haley in walking away from us, and over a political cliff.
Teachers have told me they’ve been voting Republican all their lives
And they’re never making that mistake again.
Simply because of Nikki Haley.
Gov. Haley is philosophically opposed to paying teachers with non-recurring revenues.
Newsflash, Governor: We pay our teachers from sales tax. 
They’re ALL non-recurring revenues.
Where have you been the last few years?
If your philosophy requires you to stick it to teachers year after year,
Allow me to suggest an upgrade.
Because SC is NOT with you on this.
We are better than this.  (Point to chart on budget cuts)
We can do better than this
There are 51,000 teachers in this state, one million parents,
and countless community members who support education.
When we speak with one voice, we will have the last word EVERY time.
People congratulate me on getting 9,000 members.
Someone told me we’re the largest active lobbying group on education issues in SC.
But nine thousand members is the floor, not the ceiling.
We need to come together
Right now at
And say,
“This ends here.”
“This ends today.”
“We will not tolerate this any longer.”
What is done for children or to children is done in our name.
Teachers bear witness to it every day.  And we can do better than this. 
Everyone knows SC is a pro-business state.
We’re not looking to change that.
But roller-coaster school funding is not good for business.
Chronic underfunding is not good for business.
Writing off the futures of children in poverty is not good for business.
Slapping teachers in the face and driving good people out of the profession is not good for business.
We’re having another call-in campaign,
Right now, today.
I hope the legislature hears us again and overrides this veto.
Thank you.
Our Charleston-area Senators and Reps were all invited to join us. 
Unfortunately, between the extended session. the campaign season, and their day jobs,
they weren’t able to make it.
But a number of them wanted to share their support as we stand united against this veto. 
I find it very encouraging that Republicans and Democrats are standing together with us.
Repubican Jenny Horne of Summerville wants you to know that we can count on her tomorrow. 
She also said to keep up the good work.  She says teachers need to be aware of what their reps are doing.
Republican Mike Sotille of Charleston is committed to an override. 
Republican Bill Crosby of North Charleston and Berkeley County told me we can count on him.
Now there are some people I didn’t even have to ask. 
I knew they were with us because they’re always with us.
I’m talking about people like Wendell Gilliard of Charleston.
I’ve got to tell you…Wendell has been amazing.
He was with us at the Statehouse back in March. 
He tried to get us 5%. 
As far as I know, he’s the only public official
who signed our petition with his own name.
 We have quite a few Mrs Senators and Mrs Reps.
We even have a Mrs. Cobb in there. 
Sorry, inside joke.
Anyway, Wendell and I have emailed back and forth. 
He’s always so encouraging.
When I was considering doing a Senate call-in campaign,
every person I talked to said, “Don’t do it!”.
I went back and reread this quote under Wendell’s email signature…
"You may never know what results come of your action
 But if you do nothing, there will be no results.”
That’s when I knew I had to do it. 
And look where we are today.
One override away from total victory. 
Thank you Wendell!
I might steal that quote for our website:
See You There!