Random Thoughts on the Gas Tax

In the hierarchy of reasons that government exists, infrastructure ranks right below police, military and courts. Libertarians may disagree with this statement, but most other people will agree.

South Carolina has the 3rd lowest gas tax coupled with the 3rd highest miles of road to maintain. The SCDOT currently receives about 60% of the funding they currently need. The gas tax, which has not been raised in 25 years, remains their primary revenue source. It is a mathematical impossibility to adequately fund the SCDOT without adjusting the gas tax. 

I have never voted for a tax increase – not even the cigarette tax increase. In fact, every tax reform bill I have sponsored has contained a tax cut. But I cannot ignore that a sound revenue policy requires an increase in the gas tax.

For my friends who want to issue bonds instead of adjusting the gas tax, stop trying to shift our responsibility to our children.

For my friends who want to divert funds from other agencies such as education to fund SCDOT, we will never reach a consensus to do that. We need to quit playing Fantasy Politics and get in the real game.

For my friends who want to build more toll roads instead of adjusting the gas tax, just keep repeating Southern Connector, Southern Connector, Southern Connector . . .

Historically, toll roads were a Northern invention and remain a time-wasting nuisance.

Poinsett Bridge, in Northern Greenville County, remains the oldest existing bridge in South Carolina. Built in 1820 out of stone, it was on the state road that connected Columbia to North Carolina. It is a monument to the state making good infrastructure decisions.

The two bridges on Wade Hampton Boulevard in my district connecting Greer to Taylors were built in 1939 and are deemed two of the most deficient in the state.

A conservative policy to fund infrastructure needs requires a “pay as you go” strategy.

South Carolina will never have a sound tax policy if we continue shifting revenue streams to fund unrelated services.

Sales tax receipts cannot fund everything in state government.

A consistent increase in “one-time money” from year to year in the General Fund should result in a reduction of income tax rates.

My gas tax bill does not fully meet the revenue demands of SCDOT by design. A good number of state roads need to shift to the counties.

Speaking of counties, for fiscal year ending 2011, county revenues on average grew by 55% from 2002. Compare that to General Fund growth of 16%.

For my friends who complain about waste at SCDOT, the last audit requested by the legislature was in 2006. An audit only takes a few legislators to initiate.

It seems that bridge safety improvements only happen in my district after serious accidents occur.

Gas Tax Quiz Question: Which Greenville State Senator filibustered Gov. Carroll Campbell’s gas tax increase in 1987? David Thomas.

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