STAKES RAISED DRAMATICALLY IN SOUTH CAROLINA BUDGET BATTLE
Earlier this week, our website published a pair of articles on a one-time $130 million state tax cut proposed by S.C. Rep. Bruce Bannister (here and here). Needless to say, we weren’t especially impressed with this measure – which would have amounted to an anemic 0.47 percent of the Palmetto State’s contemplated $27.2 billion government budget.
Still, something is better than nothing … and every penny we can keep out of government’s greedy clutches is one that stays in the economy, where it belongs.
Anyway, Bannister’s minuscule tax cut caused full-on apoplexy on the part of S.C. House ways and means chairman Brian White – who reportedly tried to kill it by threatening members who supported it (and threatening various leaders of state agencies with the loss of funding for specific projects).
Hell, we’re told S.C. supreme court chief justice Costa Pleicones was informed by White’s committee that long-overdue pay raises for his entire branch of government were suddenly on the chopping block as a result of Bannister’s proposal.
So … how did Bannister respond to this gamesmanship? Did he back down?
No … he tripled-down.
The temporary $130 million tax cut? It’s now a $400 million tax cut – one Bannister and his allies are making recurring.
For those of you who don’t speak “budget-ese,” we’ll translate: Instead of giving taxpayers $130 million once, Bannister and his supporters want to give them $400 million every year moving forward.
Needless to say, that’s a nice chunk of change … and the fact it’s being proposed on an ongoing basis makes it even nicer.
To be clear: Even if such a $400 million taxpayer rebate had been in effect over the last seven years, the state budget would still have grown by roughly $600 million annually over that time period. That’s a ton of new money – especially seeing as we’re talking about a state budget that was already bloated beyond measure during the previous decade.
All that money was blown with absolutely nothing to show for it, too … (which is similar to what’s happened in the aftermath of the recent increases).
Still, our initial “ehhh” impression of Bannister’s proposed tax cut has now very much moved into the “hmmmm” classification.
It’s not the broad-based relief we have consistently called for, but it’s a solid step in the right direction moving forward … and we hope lawmakers in both chambers enthusiastically embrace it.