On the gas-tax hike, lawmakers have ‘the best words’

April 21, 2017

Inside Insight, Uncategorized

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As the Senate debates, reason flies out the window

By HANNAH HILL

The state Senate began debating the gas-tax hike (their version of the bill is a straight-up tax hike of 12 cents a gallon) this week. Whenever large groups of politicians talk for long periods of time, you hear some real gems. Here are a few of the highlights.

“A responsible plan does not raid the general fund” to pay for roads. – House Speaker Jay Lucas

This quote is from a press conference held by House leaders shortly before the Senate began on Tuesday, urging it to follow the House example and do something about roads.

Lucas’s statement begs so many questions. When is using general fund revenue to pay for core functions of government considered a raid? And what is the general fund for if it’s not for core functions of government?

Of course, if all the currently dedicated streams of revenue just went to the general fund to be divvied out annually in the budget process, lawmakers would be forced to tackle some serious questions of prioritization — which is both a lovely and a terrifying thought, depending on whom you ask.

“This isn’t just about fixing roads, this is about putting people to work.” – Senate President pro tempore Hugh Leatherman

This is from a floor conversation Leatherman had with Senator Paul Campbell in which they agreed that the gas tax would be an economic development boon to South Carolina because it’s evidently going to rebuild the road industry.

According to the state Department of Transportation, our in-state contractors are completely unprepared for an influx of paving projects, so the plan is to slowly ramp them up and rebuild the road industry. Of course, it’s worth noting that Leatherman is a notable member of the road industry, as are a couple of DOT commissioners and the “Fix SC Roads” organization. Yay for economic development!

“We gotta stop killing and injuring people.” – Senator Paul Campbell

This was how Senator Campbell kicked off the roads debate. This one is strange in light of the aforementioned slow ramp-up in paving projects. If lawmakers really are killing 18.75 people a week, as Campbell explained, why not throw all the money at fixing them as quickly as possible with both in-state and out-of-state contractors?

 “Is there anyone in South Carolina who is dying because their taxes are not reformed?” – Senator Darrell Jackson

This one came when lawmakers were discussing whether or not to add tax swaps to offset the tax hike (a smoke-and-mirrors scheme, since whenever lawmakers reshuffle the tax code, government always comes out ahead). We can only hope this statement does not reflect lawmakers’ new policy litmus test.

“At a 12-cent increase…a South Carolinian can expect to pay $60 more per year. That’s driving 10,000 miles and getting 20 miles to the gallon. If you drive 20,000 miles a year, it would go up a little bit more. It would cost you about what one soft drink at a convenience store would cost you, a week.” – Senator Paul Campbell

In other words, you’ll hardly feel this tax hike. This was from the debate kick-off on Tuesday, which also happened to be tax day. Probably not the best timing on that one.

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  • Philip Branton

    Hmm…. Where are the body cam videos via Facebook Live for each one of these rascals…?

  • duffy91

    “We gotta stop killing and injuring people.” – Senator Paul Campbell

    If legislators were so concerned about safe roads, they would not have wasted our tax money on roads that go nowhere. Reform the D.o.T. and eliminate the S.I.B.

  • dm10ae

    The general fund received $93 million that was SHIMS money collected from 3 cent per gallon tax- that money was supposedly to be used for road maintenance,etc. These legislators are not good stewards of taxpayer money.

  • Gin

    The whole lot of them are corrupt.

    In the end that will add some faux reform, pass the gas tax bill and declare their success. And it will be a success — the money will be flowing — but we may not get our roads as we wish.

    Remember, it is about. the money, not the roads.

  • Timothy Wyld

    Tired of the whining about pot holes often cited in our local newspapers. SC doesn’t know potholes, try living in a real 4 season climate where potholes actually ARE an issue. Until power for allocating “road repair $’s” is given to the governor and not to the Senate Pro Tem, statewide road repair will suffer.