Senator Tom Davis’s position with respect to the gas tax issue.

May 14, 2015, 10;:40 PM

I spoke with Sen. Davis this evening about concerns arising from the current legislative session on gasoline taxes, income taxes, and South Carolina roads.

Tom stood alongside the Republican Caucus at a news conference where the Caucus laid out its plan for a large tax increase coupled with a future income tax cut. His presence was interpreted as support for the plan and critics of the plan have associated Tom with it.

You should know that Sen. Davis does NOT support the plan as presented by the Republican Caucus.

As with all issues in the South Carolina Legislature, it is not a simple matter and the future of tax and spending legislation is far from settled. Tom has promised to provide an overview of what is happening in Columbia and what is likely to be the outcome.

We will publish it as soon as we get it. In the mean time, here is what Tom has said about the gas tax proposal and the issue of expenditures on road and highway maintenance and infrastructure.

“Sen. Tom Davis, Beaufort Republican, told the Senate that the state Department of Transportation’s budget has grown from $1 billion in 2009 to $1.6 billion currently and legislators should be looking at the budget and Capital Reserve Fund before raising taxes and fees.

‘We don’t have to be jacking up the gas tax and raising driver’s license fees and raising the tax on the sale of automobiles,’ he said. ‘Households don’t do that. Households sit down and figure out what their priorities are and they spend the money on what they have to instead of going on a vacation.'”

Annual spending in SC on roads & bridges has increased from $1.051 billion in 2009 to $1.627 billion this year, and the state Board of Economic Advisors’ long-range forecast projects that our state’s General Fund Revenues (that is, the taxes South Carolinians already pay) will increase by between $300 to $400 million a year over the next ten years. Despite these FACTS, the Democrats in the State Senate and a handful of Republicans are pushing a bill that would increase gas taxes and other fees by $708 million a year.

The drumbeat in Columbia for a massive gas-tax increase in SC is now deafening; all the major lobbying groups are crying in a single chorus: “Higher taxes to fix our roads!” Enough. No more talk about increasing gas taxes.

We already take enough money from South Carolinians to do the job; we just lack the political will to spend it wisely.

Some facts:

• Currently, total annual expenditures for roads and bridges in our state exceed $1.5 billion.

• Last week, the Senate passed a budget that added to that amount by appropriating $69 million in new recurring dollars toward roads and bridges, and that’s on top of the $50 million in new recurring dollars we appropriated in last year’s budget.

• Even more significantly, in this year’s supplemental budget, the Senate dedicated all revenues in excess of the first $27.6 million collected to funding local government C-fund resurfacing projects (instead of doling it out to a laundry list of pet projects like we usually do).

• If prior year supplemental revenues are any guide — and everything we are hearing from the state’s Board of Economic Advisors says they are — then that’s at least another new $100 million toward roads and bridges in this year’s budget.

• Again, all of this with no new taxes, simply by prioritizing.

• Finally, given the BEA’s strong revenue projections for state revenues over the next ten years, we can continue to increase highway-infrastructure appropriations well into the future, all with existing revenues.

So instead of spending the last few weeks of the legislative session debating proposals over how and by how much to increase the gas tax, let’s focus on fixing the wasteful and politically driven way we now spend the taxpayers’ money. Let’s do our job.

Paid for and authorized by the Beaufort County Republican Party.

Not Authorized by any Candidate or Candidate's Committee.