So I’m in Hilton Head, and I’m OK. Honest

That's me, blown up beyond recognition, during the panel discussion.

That’s me, blown up beyond recognition, during the panel discussion.

Concern has been expressed that I haven’t posted since Friday.

But I’m OK. I just had a busy weekend, and a busier Monday.

Today, I drove down to Hilton head to moderate a panel at PRT’s annual Governor’s Conference on Tourism and Travel. Really; it’s a thing. It has a hashtag and everything.

I moderated a panel of legislators talking tourism topics. Panelists were:

  1. Sen. Yancey McGill, D-Williamsburg
  2. Rep. W. Brian White, R-Anderson (chairman of Ways and Means)
  3. Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter, D-Orangeburg
  4. Rep. Shannon Erickson, R-Beaufort

Mostly they were all very friendly to tourism. Rep Erickson wasn’t the only one favoring beach renourishment, for instance, even though she was the only one from an entirely coastal district.

If there was a split, it came when we talked about funding for construction and maintenance of roads and bridges.

And it wasn’t a particularly stark division.

The audience was very much against using tourism-directed funds, such as the hospitality and accommodations taxes, for roads. The entire panel expressed sympathy with that position. But when it came to increasing the gasoline tax, only the Democrats — who don’t have to worry about Tea Party opponents in upcoming primaries — were unapologetically for it.

But Chairman White seemed to be willing to go for the idea theoretically, at some unspecified point in the future.

It’s interesting — in my experience, the gas tax is the one tax that conservatives (regular, old-fashioned, Chamber of Commerce-type conservatives, not the latter-day Tea Party kind) are usually willing to back. But it’s a problem for Republicans in SC, after the governor’s promise to veto any such increase.

It’s going to be interesting to see how this issue develops going forward — IF it develops…

12 thoughts on “So I’m in Hilton Head, and I’m OK. Honest

  1. Norm Ivey

    Increasing the gasoline tax has a number of benefits in addition to raising revenue. They change driving and purchasing behaviors. Drivers slow down and drive less, both behaviors which result in fewer traffic fatalities and reduced emission of greenhouse gases. Consumers look for transportation alternatives such as carpooling, mass transit and more fuel-efficient vehicles. All of which are good things.

    Of course, there’s a flip side. Fuel prices can affect the price of everything else, especially food prices. Gasoline taxes are a regressive tax, impacting most those who can least afford it.

    As consumers put more hybrids and full electrics on the road, the whole gasoline tax is going to have to be re-thought. Drivers of the Chevy Volt and Toyota Prius pay far less in gasoline taxes than someone with similar driving habits using a traditional vehicle. Drivers of the Nissan Leaf don’t pay any gasoline taxes. Legislators are looking at a fee for such vehicles now to offset the loss of gasoline tax revenue.

    1. Barry

      of course some folks that drive such cars drive a lot too.

      I have a co-worker that drives a ton on business and he has a very efficient Toyota. It may be a Prius. He pays more than most people because he drives 4-5 hours a day in South Carolina on business- almost every day of the week.

    1. Barry

      They have been in South Carolina. That’s why our roads are falling apart- and why some companies avoid locating to South Carolina.

  2. Mark Stewart

    Spending money on beach “renourishment” is a waste. If you want “smart” economic development then let the beach erode and let inland property owners build on the new beach front. Everybody wins – except the saps who think the rest of us should make whole their ill-considered investments.

    Puting tourism funds into road repairs – let alone new road construction – is akin to beach replenishment. Kind of funny how this group supports one but not the other…

  3. CJWatson

    I haven’t driven on any beaches lately, but I have driven on some poorly maintained roads. It’s getting harder to avoid the potholes on I-77, I-26, and I-95, not to mention many local roads in the midlands (and I’m sure elsewhere.) I pick roads over beaches.

    1. Barry

      I- 95 is a mess- especially down between Walterboro and Savannah. Numerous potholes on the interstate- interchanges that are just flat out bad. I drive that area a lot. I’ve seen cars hit those potholes and the driver almost lose control. I’m sure it’s happened – I just haven’t seen it personally.

      It’s really pitiful South Carolina’s roads are in this bad a shape.

      WYFF Greenville did a story a few weeks back that hit a pothole in the upstate and it totaled his car. He filed with the hwy department (or DOT) to fix his car and they paid him for it – almost $20,000 I believe.

      He showed pictures of the pothole – it would have seriously damaged most cars – and could have caused someone to lose control of their car.

  4. Kathryn Fenner

    I don’t support tourism funds for road repairs or beach renourishment. I don’t support the heavy subsidies given for federal flood insurance for beachfront properties. I believe we should restrict building to behind the second dune to protect our beaches!

  5. Brad Warthen Post author

    Instead of “blown up beyond recognition” in that cutline for the picture above, I should have said, “blown up real good.”

    Anybody else have fond memories of the Farm Film Report?

    “I call you farmers because who the hell else is up at this hour?”

  6. bud

    raise the gas tax and eliminate the $300 maximum sales tax on vehicles. That should raise plenty of money for the roads.

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