CONTROVERSIAL MEASURE NOW ONE STEP AWAY FROM GOVERNOR’S DESK …
By a 14-7 margin, a South Carolina Senate panel has voted to advance a five-year, $1.8 billion tax hike approved overwhelmingly earlier this month by the S.C. House of Representatives.
This means the controversial levy – which is opposed by the public – is now just one vote away from the desk of new South Carolina governor Henry McMaster.
Will it make it here? And if so, will McMaster sign it? Veto it? Or possibly let it become law without his signature?
In each of the last two years, S.C. Senator Tom Davis has successfully filibustered this proposed tax hike. Davis has vowed to do so again – arguing that the Palmetto State’s “Third-World political-spoils system of road spending” has squandered recent revenue increases at the scandal-scarred S.C. Department of Transportation (SCDOT).
“Despite substantial increases in funding, our roads remain in bad condition,” Davis wrote in a column published this week. “Simply focusing on the revenue side of the equation isn’t the answer. Unless and until true accountability is brought to the expenditure side of the ledger, our roads will never be in the condition you have the right to expect.”
The House bill contains no such accountability, unfortunately. It just throws more money at the problem. The measure – built in large part around a massive increase in the gasoline tax – would impose a permanent annual tax hike of $532 million once fully implemented. That’s on top of the $1.8 billion collected over its first five years.
Lawmakers have more than doubled the SCDOT’s base budget over the last seven years. On top of that, they’ve approved hundreds of millions of dollars in new (and likely unconstitutional) borrowing. Has this mountain of money “fixed our roads?” No. Not even a little bit. In fact, things are arguably worse than ever.
For those of you keeping score at home, joining Davis in opposing this tax hike at the committee level were Senators Sean Bennett, Tom Corbin, John Courson, Greg Hembree, Shane Martin and Harvey Peeler.
“The bill in its current form is not about fixing our roads it’s about taking more money out of the wallets of hard-working South Carolinians who cannot afford to pay more in taxes,” Martin told us.
Joining powerful S.C. Senate finance committee chairman Hugh Leatherman in supporting the tax hike were Senators Karl Allen, Thomas Alexander, Paul Campbell, Ronnie Cromer, Greg Gregory, Darrell Jackson, John Matthews, Floyd Nicholson, Glenn Reese, John Scott, Nikki Setzler, Vincent Sheheen and Kent Williams.
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