The truth about SC: Taxes are low and getting lower, and government is not ‘growing’

Cindi Scoppe struck another blow today in the lonely fight to base public policy in South Carolina on facts. It’s not only a lonely, but a losing battle, since the people who are driving things in the State House have contempt for facts, preferring to “govern” on the basis of extremist ideology, which holds that facts are bunk.

Basically, she was answering this kind of nonsense:

Consider this analysis from an Upstate anti-government activist, speaking recently to The Greenville News: “Every year our state budget continues to go up, up, up, far exceeding our growth. So we’re getting more government, we’re getting higher taxes.

“They tell us, ‘We cut taxes.’ That’s nonsense. How can you increase spending and cut taxes and yet you claim that we also are not running a deficit? The numbers don’t add up.”

That certainly sounds like a sensible analysis. And there are circumstances under which it could be accurate. If, say, our population were remaining stagnant, or declining. Or if people’s income or purchases remained flat, or declined. But of course none of that is happening.

What’s happening isn’t that complicated. It just isn’t necessarily intuitive…

And what is happening is that tax rates have been lowered over and over for the past two decades. What is also happening is that, while the total amount of state funds spent on government is greater because of our skyrocketing population growth, the amount spent per capita is less and less:

South Carolina’s tax collections are the lowest in the nation, at $1,476.50 per capita; they dropped 18 percent from 2001 to 2011 — more than they did in 48 states. Our combined state and local tax burden per capita was less than all but one state, at $2,742. Our 2012 Tax Freedom Day — the date when we’ve earned enough money to pay all of our federal, state and local taxes for the year — was earlier than all but three states, at April 3.

This is simply not a state in which we’re “getting higher taxes.”

Ah, but our government is growing, right? Well, if by “growing government,” you mean that the total amount spent on state government each year is generally more than it was the previous year, then yes, it’s growing. With the exception of two years during the recession, state general fund expenditures (the money over which the Legislature has the most control) are growing — although this year’s $6.1 billion general fund budget is still down from the $6.7 billion in 2008-09, just before the recession hit.

But remember: While the general fund grew by 12 percent over the past decade, our state’s population grew by 15 percent. That means the Legislature appropriated less general fund money per resident, even without considering inflation, in 2012 than in 2002…

Ah, but what about all those “other funds,” from the feds and fees? Hasn’t that increased the size of government? Consider:

What’s a little surprising is that even with all that federal and other money, the total number of state employees is actually down, from 63,000 in 2002 to 56,000 in 2012. In fact, the total number of state employees has decreased over just about any period you look at during the past two decades, except last year, when it rose slightly from 2011, but remained well below the 2010 level.

So if by “growing government” you mean government is increasing the number of people on the payroll, it’s not.

If you mean government is providing more services, it’s also not. Our state is providing services to more people — Medicaid and food stamps, both funded primarily by the federal government, are prime examples — but it’s not increasing the services to each person…

Actually, you should just go read the whole thing.

85 thoughts on “The truth about SC: Taxes are low and getting lower, and government is not ‘growing’

  1. Bryan D. Caskey

    I’ll give you a specific example to support Ms. Scoppe’s point that State government is not growing very much.

    Justice Toal recently delivered her “State of the Judiciary” to the SC Legislature. You can find the power-point slides here:

    South Carolina ranks last (that would be 50th) in judges per capita. We have 1 judge per 100,000 residents, while the national average is 3.1 judges per 100,000. That translates into high caseloads. SC has 5,060 cases filed PER JUDGE. The national average is 1,780 per judge. (FYI, MA ranks #1 at 379 filings per judge.)

    Compared to all the other states, we have a very small judiciary.

    1. Kathryn Fenner

      And people want to know how someone out on bond for more than a year can be a shooter in Five Points…..

    2. Juan Caruso

      “…FYI, MA ranks #1 at 379 filings per judge.)” – B.C.

      Yet, according to the latest US Census statistical abstract, Massachusetts still ranks 20th among ALL states and D.C. in crimes rates.

      The caseload has too many advantages for to enumerate, but I will cherry pick:

      + much lower judicial costs for SC

      + judges forced to exercise a higher threshhold against frivolous lawsuits (except when politically motivated)

      + judges demand that more civil suits are settled out of court

      + fewer attorneys will be attracted to create an even more litigious society

      The SC populous may not have become many attorneys’ ideal for easy living, but unlike other infestations (excuse me, bureaucracies) that proliferate they are much more difficult to contain in critical numbers. — Name another unallied profession that can be removed from licensed practice by the S.C. Supreme Court? Guess who made that law, which some may construe as in conflict with public interest? That is right, we have attorneys guarding the lawyer coop.

      1. Bryan Caskey

        NOTE: I’m using ALL CAPS for my reply, not to yell.

        The caseload has too many advantages for to enumerate, but I will cherry pick:

        “+ much lower judicial costs for SC”

        “+ judges forced to exercise a higher threshhold against frivolous lawsuits (except when politically motivated)” SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD IS THE SAME. I THINK YOU’RE WRONG HERE. ANY SPECIFICS?

        + judges demand that more civil suits are settled out of court

        + fewer attorneys will be attracted to create an even more litigious society

        Again, apologies for the all caps. That’s the best way I could think of to quote and respond to all points.

    1. Dakota

      Mark is absolutely correct. SC, along with many red states, are “welfare states,” they get more from the federal gov. than they pay in. The blue states, oddly enough, are the ones who are losing federal dollars because the red, by-god-non-socialist states are gladly taking the blue states’ money; i.e. red state ideology does not match red-state reality….they are on federal gov. welfare. Smells odoriferously of hypocrisy.
      So, let them secede and live within their own budgets. Goes back to the ole saying “If you talk the talk, you have to walk the walk.”

      1. Steven Davis II

        Yeah, “per capita” is pure BS. If fewer people pay taxes and are used as the average, sure taxes overall “per capita” go down. I can read, but I can also do math and statistics as well.

      2. Steven Davis II

        Here’s how “per capita” works… you have 1000 citizens, 1 works and pays $1000 in taxes, 999 do not work and pay $0 in taxes. The “per capita” tax for those citizens is $1… even though only one pays and “per capita” makes everyone feel like they’re paying an equal amount in taxes when they actually don’t pay anything.

        1. Kathryn Fenner

          You assume that all the new residents are freeloaders.

          If the bosses would stop shipping jobs overseas and cutting workforce to make extra dough for another vacay home, most SC people could contribute, too!

          1. Steven Davis II

            Kathryn – Aren’t you a lawyer? I’d think you’d know better than to start throwing assumptions into a conversation to make your point.

  2. Doug Ross

    Per capita tax rates are bogus. We have a high number of poor people in the state who pay no taxes as compared to other states. I’d GLADLY pay the per capita tax amount. Or twice that. I pay five times that in state taxes alone. So I’m carrying four other people. How many more do you want me to carry?

    And which taxes do you want to raise? and by how much?

    It’s not about the tax amount anyway. It’s about the value received for the tax dollars spent. We spend a lot more per pupil than many states and the results are terrible.

    1. Mark Stewart

      Doug, hate to say it, but you are probably still a net receiver when Federal transfers are factored in. Nothing personal, it’s just the state you live in.

    2. Dakota

      What most people don’t know is that each state is responsible for its own respective programs…..even if the programs are funded or partially funded by the fed. gov. The fed. gov. (you and me) wants to insure that our dollars are not being used improperly and puts in place “guidelines” which have a great deal of latitude allowing each state to tailor the program based on each state’s uniqueness, respective needs, citizens, etc.
      For instance (and it is not quite this simple) the federal gov. regs state that, if the fed. gov. gives SC fed. money to teach K – 12, the state has to teach K-12, not first grade through the 12th.
      I have a friend who was in school here in SC when SC had to integrate. She iwas quite bitter (toward the fed. gov.) about her experience during that transition….. not that she is racist…..she is not….not one bit. But SC did a very poor “last minute” job of allocating resources and moving students, etc.
      Until I explained to her that it was SC’s responsibility to ponder and plan and then implement integration…..not the fed. government’s….did she lose her bitterness toward the fed. gov. about the process here in SC.
      Believe me, the fed. gov. has no interest, time, or resources to tell SC (or any state) to move Mrs. Jones from school 34 to school 103 and move Mr. Smith from school 22 to school 114. Ditto for the students and resources. ALL of those large and small decisions and details were made by the state.

    3. Juan Caruso

      “Per capita tax rates are bogus. We have a high number of poor people in the state who pay no taxes as compared to other states. ” – Doug Ross

      As a former tax professional (CPA at major accounting firm), I can say you are correct. Average tax rates per capita are significantly more meaningful as shown here:

      Also, for KF’s information particularly, tax filining is certainly NOT accounting — it is compliance with the law with which one professions has exhibited inordinate arrogance (IRS scoflaws by profession) when last published: #1 = attorneys. Why were such informative statistics stopped!!!!

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          He’s precisely on topic. It is always misleading to talk about people not paying taxes, when they do.

          The income tax is one we theoretically levy disproportionately on the affluent. The burden of sales taxes falls disproportionately on the poor. They’re all taxes.

          1. Steven Davis II

            If Scrooge McDuck is in line at the cash register and buys a $1.00 item, he is charged $1.07.

            If Little Orphan Annie is in line at the cash register and buys a $1.00 item, she is charged $1.07.

            How is this disproportionately different? Two buyers both paying the same amount. Their level of wealth is irrelevant, we’re talking about taxes not wealth. Find 100 people standing in line, and I bet you won’t find two unrelated purchasers who have the exact same level of wealth so it’s a moot point.

            Brad – Why is one theoretical and the other not? Is this like being a theoretically pregnant?

          2. Brad Warthen Post author

            It’s not really all that complicated. The poor pay a larger portion of their income in sales taxes, largely because they have to spend all of their income to survive.

            Just as the rich pay a larger portion of THEIR income in income taxes, if said taxes are progressive.

            SC state income taxes are NOT progressive, by the way — or weren’t last time I looked — because people reach the top bracket at a very low income level.

  3. Doug Ross

    And before you say I should be grateful to be able to pay the taxes I do pay, let me propose we switch tax bills for 2013. Then you can feel as grateful as you’d like me to feel.

  4. Dakota

    So SC gov is not growing….fewer employees….you claim. Having lived through the Bush II era of gov., I am betting that you have fallen for the ole shell trick. Here’s how it works.
    1/ There are 500 janitors who clean all of the gov. office bldgs. every night.
    2/ You hire your buddy’s janitorial service to clean all of the gov. office buildings in Columbia every night.
    3/ Your buddy hires those 500 ex-gov. janitors to work for him.
    4/ They will still clean the same offices as before but with a pay reduction of $10 a week (or they are out of a job….it is similar to bondage).
    5/ You get to claim that you have reduced gov. size.
    6/ Your buddy is reaping the $10 a week (total $5,000 a week) half of which goes toward supplies, etc.
    7/ Your buddy is personally making $130,000 a year.
    8/ You essentially “cook” the books by subtracting 500 janitors/employees and adding only “one employee,” your buddy’s janitorial service.
    9/ You win, your buddy wins, and the janitors, who can least afford it, LOSE $520 a year and benefits.
    Nice trick, don’t you think. Always check the contracts.

    1. Steven Davis II

      Ah, so it’s Bush’s fault. Too bad he’s been out of office for 4+ years and nothing has changed under Dear Leader.

  5. Kathryn Fenner

    I warrant that you make several multiples more than the per capita average, and that at least until recently, your kids were paying far less than the per capita average.

  6. doug ross


    please explain how i could be a net recipient when I paid over 50k in federal taxes last year. What did I get tgat exceeded that amount?

    1. Mark Stewart


      I didn’t like singling you out as an example. And don’t want to now either. My point was that on a per capita basis, the state as a whole is dependent on federal tax reapportionments which exceed the net revenues raised from SC on a per capita basis. South Carolina is in the red – on that basis – to the tune of over $8,000 per annum / per capita.

      Of course there are taxpayers who are paying more than this deficit across the state. But as a state, we are not pulling our weight.

  7. Dakota


    When most of us speak of taxes, we are referring to federal income taxes. It is true that there are those among us who are so poor that they pay none or little in income tax. However, there is no way they can avoid the larger tax bill which is composed of all the little taxes on gasoline, cigarettes, food (sales tax), property tax on homes and cars, etc.
    Thus, I would like for you to look at this article. Please scroll down until you see a chart (red and blue columns) showing the amount of federal vs. state/local taxes paid. You will see that the poor pay a higher percentage of their income on state/local taxes than the rich.
    Bottom line: the poor do indeed pay taxes. Please look at the article and chart. Thanks.

    1. Steven Davis II

      There are those among us who not only do not pay income tax, they actually receive a check after filing. How do you get a refund on money not paid into the system? To use the example given, Doug paid in $50,000 in, he didn’t receive a refund of $60,000… why is that?

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      No, on the contrary — that’s accurate. Throwing in the federal expenditure in order to make “state spending” sound like a much bigger number in order to further inflame anti-government passions — THAT’S misleading.

      Complain about the money the Feds send the state if you want. But that’s a separate subject.

  8. Silence

    The actual state budget is about 23 billion dollars. The 2010 census population of SC is 4,625,364. In 2000 the population was 4,012,023. I wonder what the amount of spending was?

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      No, the actual STATE budget — that which the state uses its tax authority to raise and spend — is much less than that. You’re conflating state and federal spending.

      1. Silence

        No Brad, the actual state budget is much bigger than just the general fund amount. There’s lots of money that the legislature appropriates that is NOT part of the general fund, but is still state spending.

  9. Doug Ross

    It’s depressing to watch people like Cindi write articles that try to present a viewpoint without actually understanding the numbers she is talking. She presents a number like “$1,476.50 per capita tax collections” as compared to other states as if that number means something. It’s just a number.

    Consider this: South Carolina’s median income is about $40K per year compared to a state like Maryland which has a median income of $69K per year. Would it be surprising that the tax dollars collected per capita in Maryland were higher? Also South Carolina’s cost of living index is 98%, meaning every dollar is worth 2% more than in an average state… the cost of living index in Maryland is 124%… so, of course, they will collect more tax dollars and what those dollars are spent on cost more. Seriously, this isn’t rocket science.

    And then factor in South Carolina’s unemployment rate. When a state has a higher unemployment rate, those per capita tax dollars are being paid by fewer people (like me). With a large population of undereducated people, South Carolina’s tax burden is carried by a smaller segment of the workforce than a state with lower unemployment rates and a higher quality workforce that can demand higher incomes. You can’t just keep raising taxes on the people who are carrying the load. Somehow (even though I think it is impossible) you have to raise the incomes in order to increase tax revenues.

    Throwing out a per capita tax amount as some evidence that taxes need to be raised is either willful ignorance or just poor analysis.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Cindi is VERY good with numbers. You, however, seem to be having trouble following her words. I didn’t see her “throw out” anything “as some evidence that taxes need to be raised.” I didn’t read such an argument at all.

      What I saw her do, very effectively, with both words and numbers is refute the widely-held belief that taxes are high in SC, and that government is growing.

      What she did was utterly demolish this sort of nonsense: “Every year our state budget continues to go up, up, up, far exceeding our growth. So we’re getting more government, we’re getting higher taxes.”

      And God bless her for doing so, because the people who run this state operate as though those lies were truth.

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          What numbers add up? Which numbers don’t? I’m not following you at all.

          Do you mean, “The words Doug says agree with what I choose to believe?” Because I don’t know what you mean about numbers…

          1. Doug Ross

            She was using an erroneous number to back her argument that taxes are not too high. Per capita taxes cannot describe too high or too low especially when using them to compare values to other states. As I pointed out, a dollar in SC is not a dollar in Maryland or New York. And as I also pointed out, when fewer people are paying more dollars to cover for those who cannot or do not pay, then those people doing the paying have every right to feel their taxes are too high.

            Using that per capita tax dollar statistic is meaningless. It’s a number, not a measurement of anything. How hard is that to understand?

            We should be talking about return on investment for each tax dollar. If you spend $5.00 and get a filet mignon, that’s a good deal. If you spend $4.00 and get a horsemeat patty on a stale bun, you may have paid less but you got a lot less value. (This is analogous to South Carolina public school education spending).

          2. Steven Davis II

            You’re defending Cindi’s numbers which you state are correct… yet you admit that you don’t do your own taxes because you don’t understand numbers. How credible would you say your comments are knowing all that?

          3. Brad Warthen Post author

            Actually, I’m very good with numbers. You might be surprised at my math SAT. It was a good bit higher than my verbal, and my combined score was the highest in my rather large high school (in that particular round of the test, that is).

            Today, there was a story on public radio about how stressful people find math tests to be. I don’t ever remember finding math difficult or stressful.

            I just don’t LIKE numbers. I don’t find them interesting. And I find them even less interesting when the numbers describe money. Whether I have a lot of money or no money, I find dealing with my own money to be unpleasant and stressful in a way that I never found math tests. It’s just very distasteful to me.

            If I were very, very rich, one of the first things I would do with my wealth is pay people to make sure I never, ever had to think about my money. I would just give people plastic and the bills would be paid. In fact, better yet, I wouldn’t ever shop for anything; that would be done for me, too. Thing is, I don’t even enjoy spending money.

            It’s just a thing about me and money. It’s a drag not having enough of it, but I’m never on good terms with it. I don’t know how to explain it.

    2. bud

      Seriously Doug that is almost as nonsensical as Silence’s insistance that the President is as evil as Adolf Hitler.

      Of course the per-capita number is relevant. Sure there are caveats but to suggest the per-capita number is irrelevant is nonsense. It underscores yet again why the libertarian philosophy on economics, government spending and especially the failures of capitalism is such an off-putting philosophy.

      And it’s a shame too given the very compelling arguments libertarianism makes with regard to person freedom issues such as marijuana smoking and blue laws.

      1. Doug Ross

        “Of course the per-capita number is relevant.”

        Tell me how it is relevant when comparing it to other states that have higher median incomes and higher cost of living and lower unemployment. Of course South Carolina’s number would be lower. That doesn’t mean anything in terms of whether the number is too high or too low.

        I spent last weekend in New Hampshire and Massachusetts. NH: no state income tax and no sales tax. They appear to be doing fine. According to Cindi, NH should raise its taxes to meet the national average in order to improve things. It’s a false argument based on myopic analysis.

        1. Mark Stewart


          So you don’t think that NH has devised other ways to support itself with “tax” revenues?

          Your point about relativeness is valid, but if you want to go that way, then you have to go all the way on that.

          Taxes fund our civilization. They are, or should be, directed toward investments in the long-term improvement of our citizens. What SC does not do is wisely invest in its future. Instead everyone runs around trying to protect their ever diminishing crumbs.

          If you want to complain about taxes, complain about how we are not investing in the generations to come – because that is how people as well as societies better themselves. Our taxes are “too low” to support an evolving State of SC. But worse, our political structure, and our citizens frankly, are unwilling to agree that our first priority is to those who will follow.

          The America I know is based on self-sufficient individualism; but the driving ideal has always been to create a better home for our children, grandchildren and all those to follow.

          SC has been its own worst enemy for 200 years. When is it going to stop? It is not about limited government, the welfare state, conservatism or liberalism. It is about being progressive – about being good stewards of our time here and committing to leaving things better than we found them. Not the same, better. Good government is a choice people make. It is a central pillar of economic opportunity; for individuals as well as for society as a whole. South Carolina has shown no understanding of the importance of evolving from an agrarian legislative state. That alone makes economic progress for our citizens impossible; today as well as tomorrow. The tax issue is only a minor manifestation of the much larger problem that is holding us all back.

        2. barry

          Sales Taxes
          State Sales Tax: 6.25% (food; prescription drugs; fuel costs; gas, oil, electricity; clothing costing up to $175, are exempt).
          Gasoline Tax: 41.9 cents/gallon (Includes all taxes)
          Diesel Fuel Tax: 47.9 cents/gallon (Includes all taxes)
          Cigarette Tax: $2.51/pack of 20

          Personal Income Taxes
          Tax Rate Range: Flat rate of 5.3% of federal adjusted gross income
          Personal Exemptions: Single – $4,400; Married – $8,800;
          Dependents – $1,000
          Standard Deduction: None

          Sales Taxes
          State Sales Tax: 6% (prescription drugs and unprepared food items exempt); 25 counties impose an additional 1% local option sales tax; a number of counties impose a 2% sales tax or 3%. Seniors 85 and older pay 5%.
          Gasoline Tax: 35.2 cents/gallon (Includes all taxes)
          Diesel Fuel Tax: 41.2 cents/gallon (Includes all taxes)
          Cigarette Tax: 57 cents/pack of 20

          Personal Income Taxes
          Tax Rate Range: Low – 3.0%; High – 7%; No tax on the first $2,630 of taxable income in tax year 2007.
          Income Brackets: * Lowest – $2,800; Highest – $14,001
          Number of Brackets: 6
          Personal Exemptions: * Single – $3,700; Married – $7,400; Dependents – $3,700
          Standard Deduction: Single – $5,700; Married filing jointly – $11,400

        3. Kathryn Fenner

          How do they pay for snow removal? Oh yeah, property taxes, and plenty of ’em.

        1. Doug Ross

          Thanks, Brad, I understand now. You say its relevant and that refutes everything I did to explain why it is not.

          Would you take your salary to live in New York City? A dollar’s a dollar, right?

      2. susanincola

        Whether we have a reasonable amount of money being collected for what we need done is a separate question from whether the money is being collected fairly from all. Doug says he pays too much in taxes, which is mostly a fairness question as far as who pays what in taxes.

        But I think Cindi is talking about another question — whether the amount we collect and spend in total is appropriate given the population of our state. The per capita amount is useful here, as a way of comparing across states with different populations.

        I don’t know if across states we’re really comparing apples to apples — the devil’s often in the details for that sort of thing. But it does seem a useful metric to use.

  10. barry

    South Carolina would collapse if not for the federal government sending money to South Carolina.

    WE are a poor state- and the ‘cutting taxes” refrain from our politicians aren’t helping that fact.

  11. Doug Ross

    The average weight of my five family members is 160 pounds. Do we need to lose weight or gain weight? Pick one.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      That analogy doesn’t work. To compare to what Cindi’s talking about, we would have to look at what your family weighed in past years. We’d probably also look at food consumption, and see whether that has gone up or down over the years — and, given that we’re talking human weight, probably exercise would come into it.

      And the question would NOT be whether you needed to gain or lose weight. It would be whether people who said your family ate more and more every year, exercised less and less, and weighed more and more were telling the truth or not. THAT would be a valid analogy to Cindi’s column.

      1. Doug Ross

        You mean you’d have to have more context and information before making a decision?

        Okay, our average family weight has grown from 130 pounds to 160 pounds in the past
        ten years. Do we all need to lose weight? Or just some of us?

  12. T.J.

    The point of Cindi’s article was to refute the notion that taxes are continually rising and that the government is continually growing. I did not see any normative statements about whether the growth of the government was good or bad or whether the tax rate was appropriate or inappropriate. The point is that certain folks who run the government do so via belief rather than reliance on hard fact.

  13. Doug Ross

    You think she would have written the article if she thought the people who claimed taxes were too high were right?

    She has an agenda: Higher taxes, larger government. She uses numbers to push her agenda. Unfortunately, the numbers are meaningless. Comparing apples to oranges.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      You don’t know Cindi at all.

      If there were a widespread belief in South Carolina that taxes were too low and there weren’t enough government services, and that belief dominated among the people who ran the State House, and they made state policy on the basis of that, without any regard whatsoever for the facts, which demonstrated that they were WRONG… yes, absolutely, Cindi would write about it. About that I have no doubt whatsoever, because I know Cindi.

      But as it happens, reality is the opposite of that. People choose to believe that taxes are too high and going up, and that government just keeps on expanding what it does, when these things are obviously and demonstrably untrue. People cling to those beliefs anyway. Facts have no bearing because they never did to begin with. It’s about emotion. It’s about a deep-seated resentment of the very idea of government.

      This is exacerbated in South Carolina by a couple of factors. We have an unusually high number of people who do NOT believe that we’re all in this together. They believe there are two classes of people, and THEY, of course, are always, always in the virtuous, victimized class that pays and pays while everyone else takes and takes, that they get nothing, and someone else gets everything. This, of course, is further complicated by our history, which unfortunately brings race into the equation, and thereby intensifies the emotions that are involved. But I think, given the habits of mind of white South Carolinians, that this would be a significant problem without race. Race just adds another, rather ugly ingredient, making some people think they can see at a glance which group — the givers or the takers — another individual is in.

      I hesitate to bring up that aspect of it because it stirs even more strong emotions, protestations of innocence, etc. So let’s just take it out, because frankly, considering the racial element just makes it even harder for us to talk about and deal with. Let’s just say that the phenomenon I’m describing DOESN’T have a racial element. It’s still a huge, huge problem, and a barrier to the people of this state getting their act together and funding the kinds of physical and societal infrastructure that would make our society as a whole better educated, more productive, better employed and more affluent. There is a much, MUCH greater reluctance to work together on these things in this state than in many other parts of the country, and it is a huge reason why we lag behind on so many measurements.

      It’s VERY important, when people insist on believing things that are not true, to point out the fallacy. It needs to be done over and over. Every time these lies pop up, they need to be slapped down, so that we can have realistic, fact-based discussions of what sort of government to have in this state.

      1. Doug Ross

        I’d appreciate pointers to editorials written by The State that called for less government spending, lower taxes.

        So Cindi is “revenue-neutral” when it comes to taxes in South Carolina? Doesn’t care if more or less is spent? That’s what you are telling us?

        By the way, how many race cards do you have in your hand?

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          What you say isn’t making sense, Doug. Since we keep cutting and cutting taxes, and we keep reducing the size of government as a function of our population, why would anyone need to write editorials calling for less government spending, and lower taxes? That would be like living in the state of Washington and demanding more rain…

          1. Doug Ross

            That would assume tax dollars are used effectively, wouldn’t it? You mean we need to go back to the wonderful days of 2008 when everyone was employed, the schools were churning out Rhodes Scholars by the thousands, and the roads were pristine.

            If government spending is a TINY bit smaller (following a major recession), the impact is not really noticeable. We can cut more and we should. We can re-prioritize spending to meet needs not frivolous stuff. We never talk about priorities, only about adding more government.

            Your hyperbole about “keep cutting and cutting” is as overblown as that of the people you and Cindi claim budgets are growing. You present it like its been a machete-like slash when it was a fingernail clipper-like nip.

        2. Steven Davis II

          I just got my escrow statement, my property taxes went up $600 for the next year. Like I asked before, what taxes are being lowered?

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            Nor, as far as I recall, did we ever do one calling for more taxes. We didn’t — I don’t — think in those terms. What we wrote about were specific tax proposals. Some we were for; some we were against.

            The only thing we regularly said that was general, and not about specific proposals, was to call for comprehensive tax reform in SC, because our system is so out of whack.

  14. Silence

    One thing that annoys me about our ridiculous tax structure here is that we have both income and sales taxes. I’d rather just have the state income tax and lose the sales tax entirely. Or vice versa, but that would be regressive, right?

  15. bud

    Doug, Cindi’s numbers aren’t meaningless and certainly not apples to oranges. But perhaps they are Red Delicious apples to Granny Smiths. I’ll grant you there is more information needed to be fully informed on this issue.

  16. Mark Stewart

    Sales taxes are paid by the “poor”, income taxes by the “rich” and property (and estate) taxes by the “wealthy”.

    That way everyone pays something, no? What do you want, free loaders skating through life?

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      We do not want that. That’s one reason we need the three-legged stool. But in SC, that stool is no longer standing. We’ve greatly reduced the portion paid in residential, owner-occupied property taxes, and increased the sales taxes. Which were not ever wise things to do.

      1. Doug Ross

        How do states survive and thrive without the “three legged stool”? New Hampshire seems to be balancing fine on one leg.

      2. Mark Stewart

        But 388 made so many people feel good about themselves, even when it was other people who benefited most from the senseless top-tier single-family reductions.

        Everyone is going to continue to pay in all sorts of ways for that train-wreck of legislation. If they were alert, they would see it. Apparently, slumbering is easier.

      3. Silence

        We already have a lot of freeloaders skating through life around here. Once again, that’s why my (and Doug’s) taxes are so high!

          1. Silence

            Poor people pay property taxes too. If they rent the higher tax is included in the rental rates. My rental property tax went from $1200 to over $4000 once it went out of owner occupancy. The county sees more income from my property than I do. Of course now LR high has a brand new wrought iron and brick fence, so someone has got to pay for that necessary expenditure. Of course since that was paid for with bond proceeds, I’ll be paying it off for years.

          2. Brad Warthen

            “Article” is a generic term used by nonjournalists to refer to what journalists would call a “story” (if it’s in news), or a “piece” (either news or opinion).

            A “column” is an opinion piece written by one person and signed by that person, representing that person’s opinion and no one else’s. Not to be confused with an “editorial,” which is not signed because it isn’t the opinion of one person; it represents the official position of the editorial board as a whole, speaking for the newspaper as an institution.

            “Opinion” describes anything on the editorial pages — editorials, columns, op-eds, letters, etc.

            But you would usually not say “an opinion” to refer to a specific piece. Opinion is a category, not an item.

    2. Steven Davis II

      So only poor people pay sales tax? I didn’t realize I was poor… oh well, where do I pick up my Obamaphone and EBT card?

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