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Governor Democratic candidates

Each candidate was asked, "South Carolina is facing perhaps a $1 billion budget shortfall next year. How should the state balance its books?"

Robert Ford

Age | 60

Occupation | Developer

Personal | Single

Online |

Answer | South Carolina is broke. What this state needs is revenue. Either we can raise taxes or fees or we can have gaming. The federal government can't keep bailing (South Carolina) out. The last major revenue this state got in the last 50 years came from gaming. It's when the state started its lottery. My plan is to bring back video poker, a $4 billion industry, and tax it. I will also bring gaming to Myrtle Beach, and South Carolina could get $1 billion from the (casino) licensing alone and $2 billion in revenue. The state has been undergoing a tremendous, unimaginable amount of pain and suffering.

Jim Rex

Age | 67

Occupation | State superintendent of education

Personal | Married; four children

Online |

Answer | South Carolina needs comprehensive tax reform. That is the only way to ensure that we have the revenue we need to fund our priorities as a state. As part of that reform, I believe we can make our tax system broader, fairer and lower by removing irrational caps and exemptions that have been put in place over three decades by a host of special-interest groups. While they haven't been paying their fair share, we've all been making up the difference. In addition, we should build on what the legislature did this year and raise our cigarette tax to the national average and index it there once and for all.

Vincent Sheheen

Age | 37

Occupation | Attorney

Personal | Married, three children

Online |

Answer | South Carolina must take several specific steps to deal with the budget shortfalls. First, the state took an important step toward responsible budgeting by raising the cigarette tax several weeks ago. Second, the state must enact comprehensive tax reform. Third, we must require our state Department of Revenue to crack down on tax cheats. It's not right for some people to avoid paying taxes while the rest of us carry the load. Finally, and most importantly, our state must do a better job prioritizing where our tax dollars are spent.