Not content with passing the largest budget in South Carolina history … again … “Republican” S.C. Speaker of the House Bobby Harrell (RINO-Charleston) said this week that he will revive recommendations to raise taxes on Palmetto state residents.

Harrell will select an 18-member “GOP” Caucus committee to analyze the recommendations of the 2010 Taxation Realignment Commission. This commission was the brainchild of fiscally-liberal S.C. Senate Finance Chairman Hugh Leatherman (RINO-Florence) – and last summer it proposed numerous tax increases and new levies.

Specifically, the commission recommended reinstating the state’s grocery tax – an idea S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley has also championed. Other tax hike recommendations included imposing levies on internet purchases, prescription drugs, water bills and newspapers, while dramatically raising the sales tax on vehicle purchases.

In exchange for these tax hikes, the commission recommended a modest reduction in the state sales tax – from 6 to 4.96 percent.

While the commission claimed that its recommendations were “revenue neutral,” one of its leaders acknowledged that over time these “reforms” would take more money out of the economy than they put in. Translation? The plan would increase the tax burden on South Carolinians – and do so at a time when unemployment is rising, income levels are stagnant and consumer prices are shooting through the roof.

Harrell and Leatherman are obviously no strangers to supporting tax hikes.

Last year, aided capably by Senate President Glenn McConnell, they championed an increase in the state’s cigarette tax that included no corresponding tax relief, no Medicaid eligibility reform and no structural reform to our state’s splintered, unaccountable health care delivery system. The legislation did, however, include pork barrel spending for Leatherman’s district and a fat annual marketing contract for one of the state’s most liberal PR firms.

Not surprisingly, the estimated $140 million in revenue generated by this tax hike has already vanished into the black hole of our state’s rapidly-expanding government-funded health care “industry.” In fact, Haley’s Medicaid agency has received not one but two $100 million bailouts within the last four months (here and here).

Obviously, we’re not fan of tax hikes – or for that matter ill-conceived “tax swaps” like the ridiculous property tax-sales tax shift that lawmakers approved in 2006.

We fought TRAC tooth and nail last year, and we will fight any effort by Harrell and his “Republican” colleagues to dust it off and shove its “revenue enhancements” down the throats of already overburdened Palmetto taxpayers.