The Return of ‘Competitive Grants’

THAT’S A EUPHEMISM FOR ‘PORK BY COMMITTEE’ [Update: This proviso was struck from the House budget when the bill went to the floor.] Buried in this year’s state budget bill is a proviso establishing a program that may sound familiar. The program is the Competitive Grants Review Committee – a committee that doles out money […]

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UPDATE: Senate Gas Tax Plan

THIS ONE’S A STRAIGHT-UP TAX HIKE [Update: A quick side-by-side comparison of Senate and House bills is available here.] This morning the Senate Finance subcommittee took up H.3516, the gas tax hike legislation that passed the House last week. Sen. Vincent Sheheen proposed a strike-and-replace amendment, which was adopted as the “working document” with which […]

House to Chip Away at Roll Call Requirement?

RESOLUTION WOULD ALLOW HOUSE TO BYPASS ROLL CALL ON BUDGET SECTIONS In 2008, the Policy Council released a study revealing that the South Carolina General Assembly passed bills with recorded votes only 5 percent of the time. In short, lawmakers were passing hundreds of laws on unrecorded voice votes, thus in effect exempting themselves from […]

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UPDATE: House Passes Gas Tax Increase

MODEST REFORM MEASURE INTRODUCED, BUT PREMISE STAYS THE SAME On Tuesday the House considered the gas tax hike bill (H.3516). House leadership proposed an amendment that would divert 20 percent of the vehicle registration and license fees to the Education Improvement Act fund (protecting the current education funding structure). The amendment also gave the governor […]

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Biz License Reform Bill Not Much of a Reform

BUSINESS LICENSE TAXES ARE CONFUSING AND PUNITIVE. A REFORM BILL IN THE LEGISLATURE WOULD DO NOTHING TO CHANGE THAT. By any reckoning, one of the most widely hated taxes is the business licensing tax – and that’s true in virtually any state or municipality where such a tax is levied. The reason for this dislike […]

S.C. Is a ‘Low Tax State,’ Right? Wrong.

SOUTH CAROLINA IS A LOW INCOME STATE — SOMETHING VERY DIFFERENT South Carolina politicos sometimes claim that ours is a “low tax state” and that it has the “lowest taxes in that nation.” The claim is false. It confuses tax collections with tax rates – that is, total amounts sent to Columbia versus the proportion of […]

ANALYSIS: The Pension System Reform Bill

SOUTH CAROLINA’S PENSION SYSTEM IS IN THE RED BY TENS OF BILLIONS. A NEW BILL WOULD TINKER WITH THE SYSTEM. After months of deliberations and expert testimony, the Joint Committee on Pension Systems Review finalized its recommendations on identical bills filed in both the House (H.3726) and Senate (S.394). These bills change both the funding and […]

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South Carolina roads legislature

House Leaders’ Gas Tax Bill

LAWMAKERS’ ANSWER TO THE ROADS PROBLEM IS STILL THE SAME: YOU HAVEN’T SENT ENOUGH MONEY TO COLUMBIA [The text of this analysis has been updated to reflect the bill’s most recent version. Updates on the bill’s history mentioned at the bottom.] House leaders filed H.3516, a bill allegedly designed to repair South Carolina’s deteriorating road system. […]

S.C. Supreme Court Elections – Quick and Quiet

WHY YOU HEARD NOTHING ABOUT YOUR NEW SUPREME COURT JUDGE On Tuesday, January 31, President Trump nominated Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court. Instantly, the nation’s media, political class, judicial interest groups, and citizenry began to debate Judge Gorsuch’s merits and record, and that debate will continue for probably another month. It’s a messy […]

What Makes One Lawmaker So Powerful?

SEN. HUGH LEATHERMAN HOLDS A BEWILDERING ARRAY OF STATE OFFICES. HE IS ACCOUNTABLE TO ONLY ONE SENATE DISTRICT. THE RESULT IS PREDICTABLE. Two of the most powerful offices in South Carolina are the presidency pro tempore of the Senate, and the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. Any politician occupying one or the other holds […]

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