By FITSNews || With no accompanying reform and no corresponding tax relief, South Carolina’s “Republican-controlled” General Assembly has voted to raise the state’s cigarette tax by fifty cents per pack – overriding S.C. Gov. Mark Sanford’s veto of the legislation last week.
It was a boneheaded move for several reasons.
First, the “revenue” generated by the tax will completely vanish within the next few years – completely absorbed by annual Medicaid premium increases.
Second, South Carolina’s border counties will lose out on hundreds (maybe thousands) of jobs now that our state’s cigarette tax is more expensive than both Georgia’s and North Carolina’s. This trend will be particularly pronounced on the Georgia border in places like Aiken County, which is why Sen. Shane Massey’s decision to support the tax hike is especially troublesome.
Most troublesome, though, is that raising the cigarette tax in this way not only squanders taxpayer money – it squanders a golden opportunity to reform our state’s antiquated tax code as well as its hopelessly fragmented health care delivery system. Those aren’t easy tasks, to be sure, but lawmakers should have been looking for ways to lower the state’s overall tax burden and consolidate health care agencies – not routing pork barrel spending to Senate Finance Chairman Hugh Leatherman’s district or guaranteeing a fat annual marketing contract for one of the state’s most liberal PR firms.
Once again, lawmakers took the easy way out – and legislative leaders padded their pockets in the process.
This is also the second major tax hike on smokers within the last thirteen months, following a 62-cent per-pack increase imposed by the federal government last April.
Irrespective of whether you supported the cigarette tax hike, though, there’s something to be said for elected officials keeping their word, isn’t there?
Sure there is. Unfortunately, 19 state lawmakers – four Senators and fifteen Representatives – broke their “No New Taxes” pledge by voting to override the governor’s cigarette tax veto.
According to Americans for Tax Reform, they are:
Sen. Dick Elliot (D-Horry)
Sen. Mike Fair (RINO-Greenville)
Sen. Yancey McGill (D-Williamsburg)
Sen. Nikki Setzler (D-Lexington)
Rep. Jimmy Bales (D-Richland)
Rep. Bruce Bannister (RINO-Greenville)
Rep. Kenny Bingham (RINO-Lexington)
Rep. Bill Bowers (D-Hampton)
Rep. Joan Brady (RINO-Richland)
Rep. Marion Frye (RINO-Saluda)
Rep. Jim Harrison (RINO-Richland)
Rep. Chip Huggins (RINO-Lexington)
Rep. Lanny Littlejohn (RINO-Spartanburg)
Rep. Jay Lucas (RINO-Darlington)
Rep. Jimmy Merrill (RINO-Charleston)
Rep. Rex Rice (RINO-Pickens)
Rep. Murrell Smith (RINO-Sumter)
Rep. Roland Smith (RINO-Aiken)
Rep. Annette Young (RINO-Dorchester)
Had these lawmakers simply honored their pledges, the governor’s veto of the tax increase would have been easily sustained.
Of course there are also a number of other lawmakers who claim to be fiscal conservatives on the campaign trail (i.e. Rep. Deborah Long of Lancaster or Sen. Mike Rose or Dorchester) who voted in favor of overriding Sanford’s veto as well.
We’ll be addressing their treachery in future posts …