By Paul Gable
The SC Senate Finance Committee voted 14-8 this week to approve a 12 cents per gallon gas tax hike for next year’s budget.
This move was part of an overall vote to replace a SC House road repair plan, approved last year, with one written by the Senate. The House plan approved a 10 cents per gallon gas tax increase.
The Senate plan includes more revenue raising proposals including an increase in driver’s license fees, an increase to a maximum cap of $600 sales tax on a vehicle, up from the current $300. Also included were additional fees on hybrid and electrical vehicles.
The House plan provided for a small cut of state income tax while the Senate plan provides for no tax cuts.
If the Senate plan gains approval from the full Senate, it will have to go back to the House for approval. However, several senators have already placed the plan on the contested calendar meaning the full Senate will have to vote to bring the bill before the full body.
Additionally, if Gov. Nikki Haley sticks to her word, she will veto the plan, if it ultimately passes both houses, because no offsetting tax cuts are included.
It is interesting to note, Senate proponents of the plan are already broadcasting how much of the tax will be paid by non-SC residents. The current estimate is 30%.
This is always an interesting argument that proponents of tax hikes always use to make the tax more palatable for their non-thinking constituents. Tell them how much will be paid by tourists or other outside groups.
What is never mentioned is South Carolina residents will be paying 100% of the tax year around. What percentage of gross revenues may come from tourists or others traveling through the state is really not a consideration for the South Carolina citizens who will be paying the increased tax all the time.
This debate will only become more interesting as the legislative year progresses.