Greenville, South Carolina businessman John Warren blasted his state’s “Republican” legislature this week, accusing them of blowing a massive $1.7 billion budget surplus on “pet projects” instead of long-overdue tax relief.
Is he correct? Absolutely.
“South Carolina politicians love to tell us how conservative they are,” Warren tweeted on Monday. “The map below shows the truth: South Carolina has one of the HIGHEST income tax rates.”
Here is the map Warren referenced, courtesy of the Tax Foundation …
(Click to view)
(Via: Tax Foundation)
“With a $1.7 billion tax surplus, South Carolina politicians spent our money on their pet projects instead of lowering taxes,” Warren added in his tweet.
In a related Facebook post, Warren urged voters to remember this fiscal treachery in the 2022 election cycle.
“Next election season, remind your legislators that you want tax reform!” he wrote.
Warren’s message carries considerable weight given his involvement in the 2020 election cycles – which saw the GOP surge to near supermajorities in both the S.C. House of Representatives and the State Senate. Unfortunately, as I noted yesterday, these advantages have produced next-to-nothing in terms of measurable benefit to taxpayers.
Indeed, as Warren pointed out in his social media posts, things continue to move in the wrong direction.
My news outlet made the case for income tax relief heading into the 2021 legislative session, arguing that “the Palmetto State is simply not competitive when it comes to its income tax rate.”
The state’s excessively high 7 percent top marginal income tax rate – which applies to all income over $15,400 – is the tenth highest income tax rate in the nation and the highest in the southeast. Two southeastern states – Tennessee and Florida – do not levy a state income tax rate. Meanwhile, both North Carolina and Georgia have cut their top marginal rates in recent years – with the Tar Heel State now assessing a 5.25 percent levy on all income and Georgia assessing a 5.75 percent levy on all income over $7,000.
For years, I have been calling on lawmakers to make the state’s tax code more competitive.
“It’s time South Carolinians insisted upon a fundamental reorientation of state government’s approach to taxation and spending that eliminates unnecessary government and routes the proceeds from these cuts to real relief for the middle class consumers who empower the Palmetto State’s economy,” I wrote three years ago.
DON’T MISS A STORY …
Have lawmakers listened? No. Instead, they have doubled down on the failed approaches of the past.
This fiscal year, “Republican” lawmakers are poised to spend a staggering $31 billion on state government – up from $29.4 billion the previous year.
Last fall, University of South Carolina economist Joseph Von Nessen told a conference of business leaders that “South Carolina will have to begin re-thinking its approach to economic development” – focusing less on corporate recruitment and more on “persuading workers to live in South Carolina.”
Meanwhile, economist Rebecca Gunnlaugsson has done some excellent work highlighting the extent to which anti-competitive tax climates are curtailing economic expansion at the municipal level – saddling individuals and existing businesses with exorbitant tax burdens.
Again, though … lawmakers steadfastly refuse to heed these warnings.
Warren – a U.S. Marine Corps veteran – challenged incumbent “Republican” governor Henry McMaster in 2018 and nearly defeated him in a GOP runoff election. Earlier this year, Warren flexed his muscle at the S.C. State House by weighing in on a contentious judicial race – bolstering conservative lawmakers in their opposition to the appointment of a liberal circuit court judge. Prior to that, he blasted McMaster over the latter’s lackadaisical handling of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Since then, though, Warren has been mostly quiet … prompting speculation as to whether he is planning to challenge McMaster again in 2022.
Will he? I certainly hope so …
South Carolina desperately needs elected officials willing to fight for the individual income earners and small businesses driving our state’s economy. McMaster has clearly demonstrated he is not such a leader, and the “GOP-controlled” General Assembly has clearly demonstrated it is, in fact, pursuing a far different agenda.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven children. And yes, he has LOTS of hats (including that killer Chicago Blackhawks’ lid pictured above).
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