Gov. Nikki Haley continued her push Wednesday for a tax swap to pay for badly-needed road repairs in South Carolina, saying the business recruiting advantage it gives South Carolina should ease any concerns about lost tax revenue.
The governor defended her plan that would raise South Carolina’s 16 cents per-gallon gas tax to 26 cents in exchange for dropping the state’s top income tax level from 7 percent to 5 percent. Haley said North Carolina has made a similar decrease last year, dropping its top income tax rate to 5.75 percent. The governor said that gives the Tarheel State a competitive edge in recruiting new companies.
“They said they were coming after us. And kudos to them, they did,” she told reporters in a press conference outside her office. “It was their way of saying ‘Game on.’ This is our way of saying ‘Bring it on.'”
Haley’s plan will face a tough sell in the General Assembly. Democrats note budget analysts’ predictions that the state would miss out on more than $1 billion in annual tax revenue by the time the plan took full effect. Powerful Senate budget chairman Hugh Leatherman, R-Florence, said the lost tax revenue would likely mean cuts elsewhere in the budget.