Legislators are trying to renew a tax credit for those who buy a plug-in hybrid car. The House passed a bill Thursday that would offer a $2,000 credit for a person who buys a hybrid in South Carolina.
Rep. Jim Merrill (R-Charleston) said South Carolina first created the credit in 2007 to encourage the use of alternative fuels. It expired earlier this year. Merrill believes rising gas prices will lead more people to buy the cars.
We were actually forward-thinking in South Carolina and we put this tax credit in… to try and move the technology forward, in order to get away from the oil we’re all using right now. I think if you go to the gas pump right this minute, 90 percent of the people there would (think) this might be a good idea to get away from foreign oil.
The number of hybrid cars on the market has significantly increased in the past year with the release of the Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Volt. The bill doubled the maximum amount of total credits available to $500,000 each year. It’s very unlikely that total would be exhausted, as only 10 people used the credit in 2009 for a total of $18,000.
The bill passed by a 64-40 vote. The House had rejected the credits last month, but decided to reconsider their vote. Some legislators switched after a five-year sunset provision was included in the legislation.
A number of legislators opposed the credits. Some, such as Rep. Gary Simrill (R-York), said the government should not try to influence how people buy cars.
Hybrid plug-in cars are good for the environment, no question about that. What is the incentive to buy it? High gasoline prices. Do you need to add a cash incentive to that, as well?
Others said the credits would take away badly-needed revenue for education and other services. Simrill said the tax breaks would only benefit wealthy South Carolinians who could afford to pay at least $40,000 for a hybrid vehicle.