There are few honest politicians in the Palmetto State, and even fewer who are willing to stick their necks out for a just, but unpopular, cause. You can count state superintendent of education candidate Sheila Gallagher among them.
See, over the weekend at the annual S.C. Democratic Party Convention, Gallagher told her fellow lefties that South Carolina should legalize recreational marijuana and use the tax revenue to fund education. The State reports
Gallagher, of Florence, said legalizing marijuana should be put to a vote and the revenue that would be gained could go toward investing in the state's education system.
“It isn’t about getting high,” Gallagher said.
The revenue that could be obtained from legalizing marijuana could be used to invest millions of dollars into the education system until S.C. has the best schools in the nation, she said.
Not surprisingly, Gallagher has received some blowback, and while there's no doubt the move harmed her politically, it's hard not to applaud the one-time president of the S.C. Education Association for being proactive. After all, marijuana legalization is coming; it's just a matter of where and when. And as far as I'm concerned, it would be in South Carolina's best interest to get in the game before our neighbors do. We're already tourist leaders, so why not seal the deal by letting the masses share a spliff? Lord knows, there's plenty enough reefer here to go around.
Earlier today, Jackie B. Hicks, current president of the S.C. Education Association, released a statement on Gallagher. Oddly enough, the head of the state teachers' union didn't issue an outright, finger-wagging condemnation, so kudos to her too. Hicks said:
Sheila Gallagher is a past president of The SCEA and a personal friend. She served multiple terms as my predecessor before retiring in 2010. As a candidate for state superintendent of education, Ms. Gallagher has been in the news recently, most notably because of a controversial proposal she has publicized.
It is important to note that Ms. Gallagher’s campaign platform and opinions are her own and do not reflect The SCEA’s current agenda. While we applaud Ms. Gallagher’s creativity — and the additional money for education is sorely needed — The SCEA remains confident that additional revenue streams for education can be identified, perhaps through policies to reduce unnecessary tax exemptions to businesses locating here or to increase the quantity of taxable property. Meanwhile, South Carolina regularly underfunds education by about $700 million per year.
The SCEA has not yet recommended a candidate for superintendent. We wish Ms. Gallagher all the best in her campaign for superintendent of education.