The Gas Tax, the Infrastructure Bank, and Lawmakers’ Word Games

• Legislature began diverting fees to Infrastructure Bank in 2005 • Diversion of Funds meant to circumvent state constitution • In 2003 lawmakers changed the name of the gas tax to a ‘fee’ • After credit downgrade, legislature continued to divert funds to STIB (The following provides historical background for this analysis of H.3516, the gas […]

South Carolina roads legislature

Roads: What Reform Is – and Isn’t

THREE STEPS TO FIXING SOUTH CAROLINA’S ROADS – AND NONE OF THEM INVOLVES RAISING TAXES ON A POOR AND OVERTAXED POPULATION One thing has become increasingly evident in the debate over the gas tax: lawmakers have no real solution to South Carolina’s infrastructure problems. Their only solution is raising taxes. But lawmakers haven’t shown, or even tried to […]

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 […]

South Carolina Roads

Will Lawmakers Raise the Gas Tax in 2017?

LAST YEAR, THE PROBLEM WAS STRUCTURAL RATHER THAN MONETARY. IT STILL IS. Over the past several weeks there has been considerable public speculation that Gov. Nikki Haley’s successor may support a gas tax increase. Given calls to raise the gas tax from editorial boards, Department of Transportation officials, and state lawmakers, it’s fair to assume that the […]

South Carolina roads legislature

Road Funding Bill – Most Confusing Tax Hike Ever?

  WEIRD PROCEDURAL MOVES, CONVOLUTED SHUFFLING OF TAXES AND FEES … WELCOME TO THE 2016 ROADS DEBATE The Senate Finance Committee is currently debating legislation that would raise taxes and fees, reduce other taxes and fees, and somehow send additional money to the Department of Transportation for road maintenance and repair. Here’s what you need to […]

What the Right to Work Really Means

SOUTH CAROLINA IS A RIGHT-TO-WORK STATE. DOES THAT MEAN SOUTH CAROLINIANS ARE FREE TO WORK? NOT ENTIRELY. South Carolina’s status as a right-to-work state is often credited by government officials as the reason business is attracted to our state. But there’s something troubling about the way they talk about that status. The right to work, […]

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ANALYSIS: Imposing a Statewide Property Tax

SAME BAD ARGUMENT, DIFFERENT TAX It is a long held view among many elected officials that the only thing preventing exemplary achievements for students in state run schools is insufficient funding. If funding goes up without any apparent results, it simply means funding has not gone up enough. Recently, individuals of this mindset in South […]

Why the Gas Tax Is a Tax – Not a “Fee”

THE DISTINCTION IS VITAL, AND STATE LAWMAKERS ARE WRONG TO IGNORE IT A common mentality inside the South Carolina General Assembly holds that all private goods and services belong to government. We’re calling this a mentality, not a doctrine or an explicit belief, because lawmakers rarely if ever state it explicitly. But the mentality is […]

Gas Tax Plans: More of the Same

S.C. POLITICOS HAVE  PRODUCED AT LEAST FOUR MAJOR PLANS TO “FIX OUR ROADS.” NOT ONE OF THEM WILL ACCOMPLISH THAT GOAL. HERE’S WHY. How would a massive tax hike fix all our roads and bridges and cut our income taxes? It won’t. But that hasn’t stopped South Carolina politicians from pushing multiple versions of this […]

ANALYSIS: Senate Compromise on Road Funding

A COMPROMISE? SURE. A COMPILATION OF ALL THIS YEAR’S BAD IDEAS? THAT TOO. Last week, a majority of Senate Republicans produced a compromise on the subject of road funding. At this point, the legislation itself isn’t available to the public; we only have a press release. But if that release accurately reveals the plan’s details, the […]