From The State:
Gov. Nikki Haley wants state workers to answer their phones, saying, “It’s a great day in South Carolina. How can I help you?”
Tuesday, Haley instructed the directors of Cabinet agencies, which report to her, to change the way their employees answer the phones.
Haley said the change will boost the morale of state workers, remind them they work for the callers on the other end of the line and help her sell the state to employers.
Among the state agencies that are part of Haley’s Cabinet is the state’s prison system. Others include commerce, education, public safety and health.
However, Dick Harpootlian, chairman of the S.C. Democratic Party, said Haley’s approach is silly.
“She believes that if you say the lie enough, people may begin to believe it. But we know the state is in the toilet,” Harpootlian said, referring to the state’s 11.1 percent unemployment rate, the fourth-highest rate in the nation.
The “great day in South Carolina” greeting requirement comes on the heels of criticism of Haley for undermining S.C. workers and the state as a job site.
On last year’s campaign trail, Haley often said half of applicants failed pre-employment drug tests at the Savannah River Site. Haley used that claim to endorse drug testing for unemployed South Carolinians seeking jobless benefits.
However, recently released data shows less than 1 percent of would-be SRS workers failed the drug tests.
From The State:
Gov. Nikki Haley’s requirement that state workers answer their telephones with a cheery “It’s a great day in South Carolina” is getting mixed reviews.
Democrats were quick to criticize the new policy. SC Forward Progress, a Democrat group, released a web video Wednesday on YouTube, pointing to the state’s 11 percent unemployment rate, recent political scandals including ethics violations by Lt. Gov. Ken Ard and more as proof of the state’s lack of greatness.
Reaction from agency directors has been positive so far. Several agency heads expressed approval of the new policy Tuesday.
“It seems fine to me,” said Bob Toomey, DAODAS [Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services] director, Wednesday, adding he has heard no complaints about the new policy.
But some state workers think the greeting could be inappropriate – particularly for state workers at agencies that deal with health issues.
For example, Haley’s Cabinet includes the Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services where the mission is to work to prevent/reduce substance use and addictions. The Cabinet also includes the Department of Corrections that oversees the state’s prisons.
“For some of those callers, it’s not a great day,” said Carlton Washington, director of the South Carolina State Employees Association.
Washington said calls from upset state workers were steady all day Wednesday. He said he wishes Haley would focus more on the needs of state workers.
State employees have not received cost of living increases in four years and no merit-based raises since 2001. Layoffs and furloughs have been commonplace in the last few years. The General Assembly is talking now about making cuts to their pension plans.