Gov. Nikki Haley is challenging the Legislature to set aside $140 million for tax relief in next year’s budget. As House lawmakers began their “budget week,” Haley held a press conference to make her case for reduction and restructuring some of the state’s taxes.
She says her approach is different from that of her predecessor, Mark Sanford. “We really jumped into all details about the executive budget. We did apples to apples…we brought in agencies and legislators from Ways and Means,” Haley said Monday.
Haley says her “number one agenda item is jobs” and the state helping companies provide cash flow and profit margins. She says South Carolina will be more competitive when it reduces and eventually phases out the corporate income tax.
“I am telling the legislature, ‘If you do this for me, if you do this for the businesses of the state, We will bring more jobs, we will get unemployment down, we will have more companies come.’ I need the opportunity to do that,” said Haley.
House Republican leaders argue that the Ways and Means Committee budget includes more than $600 million in direct tax relief, including a break in business unemployment/state unemployment tax act (SUTA) payments. Read House GOP plan.
The House and Haley’s tax reform plan is similar in many ways, including the ideas of getting rid of the corporate tax, collapsing six individual income tax brackets into three and lessening the manufacturer’s tax rate from 10.5 percent to 6 percent. That rate is set in the state Constitution.
Don Weaver, president of the South Carolina Association of Taxpayers, says, “Right now it’s in the Constitution…which is crazy. No other tax is in the Constitution like that.”
Gov. Haley says she just lost a company to Florida where there is no corporate income tax. “That is a tax that businesses look to a state to see if you are a business friendly state or not, ” the governor said.
She says if lawmakers are serious, they will set aside the $140 million into what she calls a tax relief trust fund.
Tuesday, Haley will restate her argument in press conferences in Greenville, Aiken and Charleston.
VIDEO: Haley’s Columbia press conference