To Members of the South Carolina General Assembly,
On behalf of National Taxpayers Union’s (NTU) Palmetto State supporters, I urge you to reject H.3516 in its current iteration. If enacted, the bill would dramatically increase regressive taxes in South Carolina while making no substantive reforms to the state’s broken transportation system.
There is no question South Carolina’s roads and highways are in a state of disrepair. At the same time, South Carolina’s antiquated transportation system desperately needs to be modernized. Regrettably, H.3516 would throw good money after bad – pouring money into a byzantine system.
Specifically, H.3516 raises the gas tax from $0.16 per gallon by $0.2 per gallon per year, for five consecutive years. In addition, the bill raises the biennial registration fee on small trucks by $16. The legislation creates a new “infrastructure maintenance fee” to be instituted – five percent of the sales price of a vehicle up to $500 for an automobile registered in the state and $250 for new residents registering out-of-state vehicles. Next, the bill levies a tax on alternative fuel vehicles with a biennial fee of $120. The bill also raises a myriad of other taxes and fees.
NTU continues to believe that any tax increases must be offset by reductions in other taxes so the total package is revenue neutral or a net tax cut. Simply put, taxes are not popular among your constituents and hamper economic growth.
Finally, NTU adamantly believes any transportation package, no matter how well designed from a fiscal policy standpoint, must dramatically alter the broken system in South Carolina. The Transportation Commission, the commissioners of which are appointed by legislators, ought to be abolished. It prioritizes parochialism over statewide needs. In its place, the Governor should be given the power to nominate a Secretary of Transportation, with advice and consent from the Senate, and the two should collaborate to execute a transportation policy with instruction from the General Assembly. This will modernize a hopelessly outdated and inefficient system while adding transparency and accountability.
Unless the bill is amended to reform the broken transportation system in South Carolina and the bill is revenue neutral or a net tax cut, NTU will oppose it. Accordingly, we urge you to either amend H.3561 or reject it entirely.
Counsel and Government Affairs Manager