SENATE’S FISCAL CONSERVATIVE CHAMPION SIGNALS SUPPORT FOR BIGGER TAX RELIEF PACKAGE
The battle to provide larger, longer-lasting tax relief to working South Carolinians received some momentum this week.
We’re referring, of course, to the debate over whether to let Palmetto State residents keep some of the $1.3 billion in new money they are providing to state government for the coming fiscal year.
Initial proposals put forward by S.C. House “majority” leader Bruce Bannister would have sent just $130 million of that $1.3 billion surplus back to taxpayers – on a one-time (a.k.a. non-recurring) basis. That’s barely a drop in the bucket of the state’s estimated $27.2 billion budget for fiscal year 2016-17.
Astoundingly, Bannister’s opponents made a grave miscalculation – choosing to threaten him and his supporters over the minuscule measure.
Those threats prompted Bannister to triple down on the tax cut – raising it to $400 million and making it recurring (i.e. part of the budget every year).
“That’s a nice chunk of change … and the fact it’s being proposed on an ongoing basis makes it even nicer,” we wrote in response to Bannister’s updated proposal.
Now S.C. Senator Tom Davis – who singlehandedly blocked an $800 million gas tax hike in the State Senate – is signaling his receptiveness to such a proposal.
“When the state is collecting 15 percent more in revenues from the people than it did the previous year, tax relief must be on the table,” Davis said.
Beyond the success of his filibuster, Davis has seen his stock rise of late thanks to an alliance with Senate “majority” leader Harvey Peeler. In fact the two recently blocked efforts by powerful Senate president Hugh Leatherman to route hundreds of millions of dollars in infrastructure money to a glorified slush fund.
Davis also has credibility on this issue thanks to his years of fighting for a “taxpayer rebate fund” – which would have routed a percentage of surplus funds and other government “savings” back to the taxpayers.
Could Davis and Peeler reprise their one-two punch in getting a bigger tax cut through the Senate?
We shall see …
We support efforts by all of these lawmakers to enhance tax relief. Again, $400 million out of $27.2 billion budget isn’t exactly broad-based relief – but as we’ve often said “every penny we can keep from flowing into South Carolina’s sprawling government is a penny that stays in the marketplace.”
Lawmakers have been spending roughly $1 billion in new money a year, on average, over the last seven years.
It’s time they gave some of that back …