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 PALMETTO STATE CAN’T AFFORD IT

A recycled trade association wants to raise South Carolina’s gas tax by an unspecified amount to fund infrastructure enhancements – one of several proposed tax hikes being pushed in the Palmetto State for 2013.

The “S.C. Alliance To Fix Our Roads” – formerly the “South Carolinians for Better Highways” (and later the “Transportation Policy and Research Council”) – has hired a veteran special interest insider and former taxpayer-funded lobbyist to make its case to the S.C. General Assembly.  Their efforts got a nice plug in this week’s editions of The (Columbia, S.C.) State newspaper – a left-leaning rag which wasted little time in pointing out that South Carolina’s 16-cent per gallon tax is the third-lowest tax in America.

What did The State fail to mention? For starters, the paper left out the fact that South Carolina maintains the fourth-largest highway system in America – which is utterly ridiculous for a state that ranks fortieth in size.  The State also failed to point out that South Carolina’s low gas tax is essential given the disproportionate percentage of income our citizens are shelling out on fuel.

Because South Carolinians are dirt poor (and getting poorer), they wind up paying a much higher share of their income when filling up their vehicles.  According to a 2011 study, South Carolina ranks second in the nation (behind only Mississippi) in terms of the percentage of individual income its citizens spent on gasoline.  So while our gas tax may be low compared to other states, our citizens clearly cannot afford to pay more than they’re already paying.

The State also failed to mention Interstate 73 or Interstate 526 – two totally unnecessary transportation projects which will drain hundreds of millions of dollars from South Carolina taxpayers over the coming decade.   Nor did the paper address the shameful financial mismanagement at the S.C. Department of Transportation (SCDOT) – one of several government agencies S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley has run into the ground since taking office.

“Republicans” in South Carolina have wanted to increase the gas tax for several years, but the recent recession has prevented them from doing so.  Meanwhile a Democrat – S.C. Rep. Bakari Sellers – has actually proposed a modest gas tax cut.

Sellers says he’s opposed to any tax hike on gasoline in the upcoming legislative session.

“We’re not going to raise any taxes until we first prioritize our spending,” Sellers said.  “That’s why I’ve filed a bill to make sure that every dollar in capital reserve funding either goes to infrastructure needs or small business tax relief.”

To her credit Haley says she’s against a gas tax increase, too.

Good for them.  And shame on The State for once again giving its readers only half the story (the liberal half).

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