Lawmaker: Not Raising Gas Tax = Welfare

March 8, 2016

Inside Insight

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By THE EDITORS

gas gauge

Oh, the things they say on Facebook!

Here at The Nerve, we try to follow and “friend” elected officials on social media, especially Twitter and Facebook. We like to know when they say interesting things – “interesting” meaning insightful, surprising, misleading, factually challenged, unintentionally hilarious, and/or outrageous.

We can’t catch them all, though, and it seems we missed this one by Rep. Neal Collins (R-Pickens).

Collins’ post begins in some confusion: “The Senate is considering paying $400 million for roads out of the general fund (‘the surplus’).”

Huh?

It’s true that the amended Senate legislation sends an additional $400 million to the Department of Transportation, and it’s true that there is a surplus in this year’s budget (depending on how you define “surplus”). But the $400 million appropriation is not dependent in any way on the surplus. We wonder how many other House members are confused on this point. It’s an important one.

In the next two paragraphs, Collins argues that instead of appropriating that $400 million from the general fund, we should raise it in new money by increasing the gas tax. Why? Because, he claims, one third of those paying the tax are from out of state. For the record, it is either false or unknowable that one third of gas tax revenues come from out-of-state drivers. The number seems to have been invented – although that doesn’t stop South Carolina politicos from using it as if it were gospel truth.

Collins’ logic is summed up in a hashtag he invented for the purpose (it doesn’t exist anywhere else on the internet!): ‪#‎NoWelfare4OutOfStaters.

So “welfare” is not raising taxes on people? Of course, out-of-state drivers already pay South Carolina’s gas tax if they happen to fill up here, but somehow not raising that tax is the same as giving those drivers “welfare.”

Hm. Not sure we’re following the logic.

We wonder, incidentally, if Collins favors tax breaks to specific companies – i.e. actual favors that benefit specific companies at the expense of others. Is that “welfare,” specifically corporate welfare, or just smart policy?

Tell us what you think.