In upcoming weeks the South Carolina Senate will consider the budget plan passed by the House last week. Leaders of both chambers will eventually work out their differences for a compromise proposal.
Several plans were put forth in the House in an attempt to boost the seriously recessed state budget, but few of them passed a cohesive Republican vote. One amendment was a plan to make a change that economists have said for years is needed if the Palmetto State wants to increase its revenues, and that’s the $300 cap on the sales tax for most things motorized: automobiles, boats, motorcycles, RV’s and planes. The House stopped on an 86-24 vote a Democratic attempt to lift the $300 sales tax cap on cars, boats, recreation vehicles and planes.
Charleston Democrat Seth Whipper said that removing the cap would have generated $162 million. Newberry Democrat Walt McLeod asked him questions from the floor.
(Whipper-McLeod on sales tax cap MP3 2:37)
Whipper-McLeod on sales tax
The House did pass a 30-cent per-pack increase in the tobacco tax, even though a large group, including some Republicans, said the increase should be more than a $1 or even the national average, $1.34. The House also accepted the use of more than $173 million in federal Medicaid money to cover planned cuts to health care and the Department of Disabilities–if Congress actually makes those funds available.
According to the Democratic plan, 50-percent of the revenues produced by lifting the sales tax cap would go toward education. The proposal would also have funded the Department of Juvenile Justice.
But the vote followed the lead of Greenville County Republican Garry Smith said that the proposal was just a way of raising taxes.
“They are not willing to live within our means and to do targeted cuts and targeted spending. But they’re willing to tell the folks back home that we’re going to spend their money.”
Republicans also rejected a similar plan by Richland County Democrat Todd Rutherford that would have provided a series of caps.