We don’t need casinos to fund our roads

This came in today from the SC House Democratic Caucus:

Rutherford to propose legislation allowing casinos in Myrtle Beach to fix roads
Columbia, SC – House Democratic Leader Todd Rutherford announced today that he plans to introduce legislation next year to allow well-regulated, upscale casinos in the Myrtle Beach area and use the new tax revenue to fix South Carolina’s ailing roads and bridges. On the June 10th primary ballot, 80% of Democratic voters supported the idea of modernizing our state’s gaming laws to fund road repairs instead of raising taxes. Rutherford said Governor Nikki Haley is being disingenuous by promising to tackle our roads without proposing a funding strategy.todd-rutherford
“Governor Haley doesn’t have a plan to fix our roads. She’s against everything and for nothing. That kind of stubbornness won’t fill our potholes, widen I-26, or create I-73. It’s time to get serious about how we’re going to pay for these repairs and Governor Haley’s mystical “money tree” is not a serious plan.
Allowing well regulated, upscale casinos in the Myrtle Beach area would create a new annual multi-billion dollar revenue stream that will allow us to fix our state’s crumbling roads, create thousands of good jobs, and keep taxes low. House Democrats will continue to push for innovative solutions to the problems Governor Haley and her Tea Party allies have created and now refuse to address.”
Rutherford says voters are taxed enough already and this proposal provides an alternative to a gas tax increase, which has no chance of passing the legislature.
“The people support this. Businesses support this. Many Republicans in the legislature are open to casinos. Anyone who loves individual freedom, personal liberty, and lower taxes should get behind this issue 110%.”
Rutherford also challenged those who may oppose casinos in Myrtle Beach to offer up an alternative plan that accomplishes the goal of repairing our roads.
“For those who oppose this idea, I challenge you to come up with another way to fund our road repairs without raising taxes. It’s time for fresh ideas and Governor Haley continues to offer up nothing but rhetoric and policies that are as broken as our roads.”

Folks, you really need to stop straining so hard for ways to fund road construction and maintenance in SC. We have a way — the gasoline tax. It hasn’t been raised in ages, and absurdly, it’s set as a per-gallon amount, instead of being set as a percentage, the way a sales tax would be.

It’s a pretty straightforward way of taxing those who are using the roads — both residents and out-of-staters. It makes sense, and it’s currently artificially low.

So stop straining to find an alternative. The answer is right in front of you.

67 thoughts on “We don’t need casinos to fund our roads

  1. Mark Stewart

    I’m trying to remember the last time Rutherford said something sensible and in the best long term interests of SC. Drawing a blank here…anyone?

  2. Tyler Jones

    Brad – Almost every Republican in the legislature has signed a “no tax increase” pledge and will be defeated by a Tea Party challenger if they break that pledge. And even if they lose, that Tea Party member who defeats them will never EVER vote for a gas tax increase. And our districts are so gerrymandered that there is realistically no way a Democrat can beat most Republicans. A gas tax increase makes total sense, but the political reality is that it isn’t going to pass a Republican legislature anytime soon. And instead of waiting until the Republican Party works out its issues with the Tea Party, we should pursue other alternatives. If we don’t, our roads will continue to suffer.

    1. Michael Rodgers

      While pragmatism is a very good principle, it’s not the best principle, and if you choose to make it your first principle, you’ll get nothing accomplished. If you think the gas tax is the best idea, say so. Etc. How about proposing actual bills that represent your actual priorities. If they get ignored, they get ignored, and then you do the best you can as the loyal opposition, making the awful bills of the Republicans as palatable as possible and making the good bills of the Republicans as celebratory as possible.
      Relatedly, in what world is Tombo Hite a rock star? He graduated from USC Law and got a job at …. wait for it … his daddy’s firm? He won’t support a gas tax increase?
      Get real. Now. Where’s the bill to take down the Confederate flag? Please get people to propose some real bills from the left that you actually believe in.

  3. Brad Warthen

    Well, I’m an adherent of the Common Sense party. Which also goes by UnParty and Grownup Party.

    And since “the gas tax makes total sense” the Common Sense/Grownup/UnParty is all for it.

    Democrats need to stop turning to gambling to fund government. It cedes the responsible, family-values ground to Republicans. Responsible government should be paid for with responsible revenue sources, not with “free” gimmicks…

  4. Norm Ivey

    As more hybrids, full electrics and other alternative vehicles get on the road, the revenue generated by a gas tax is going to decrease while road use remains the same or increases.. Raising the gas tax now is a good idea for a lot of reasons, but I’m afraid it’s not sustainable.

  5. bud

    It’s pretty frustrating to be a Democrat in this state. Whenever the gas tax comes up in conversation it is sometimes mentioned that the tax has not been increased in 20+ years. That’s not actually true. In fact the gas tax has been effectively CUT. It’s based on a per gallon basis instead of a percentage of the price of the gas. In effect that means the tax is reduced by the rate of inflation and today is probably about 1/2 or less what it was in the 80s. I know that really makes no difference to the tax cutting hawks but at least the people should know the truth.

    Of course as others suggest there is probably no realistic way to raise the gas tax so we have to consider something like the stupidity tax. Otherwise known as casinos. Given the shabby state of Myrtle Beach right now I don’t really see a huge degradation impact. That ship has already sailed.

  6. Tyler Jones

    Brad – With all due respect, you’re refusing to accept reality. We can all agree that a gas tax is necessary until we are blue in the face but it’s never going to pass the Republican-controlled legislature. So, if that’s off the table (and we can’t even have this discussion until you accept that; and if you disagree, please fill us in on your strategy to pass it through the General Assembly), then how else are we going to fund our road repairs that will cost upwards of $30 BILLION? It’s easy to complain when you aren’t in charge of actually fixing problems in the state. It seems like your pragmatic side would understand the necessity of finding alternative solutions to a problem we have to solve VERY soon.

    1. Michael Rodgers

      Republicans will pass a bill to “Reform our Taxes and Repair our Infrastructure!”
      You have to propose the correct solution, the one you want. This means you propose raising the gas tax. Then you start working with the Republicans to find out what it takes for them to support you. They will agree to raising the gas tax and lowering some other tax so that it’s all part of a tax reform package that they can live with.

      1. Tyler Jones

        You’re just wrong. Period.

        We can’t even pass modest ethics reforms. Even if a gas tax increase passes the House, which it won’t, you don’t think the back-benchers in the Senate will filibuster it until it dies?

        And even if it DOES pass the Senate, Haley has already vowed to veto it. And if Sheheen wins, do you ACTUALLY think the GOP legislature will work with a Democratic governor to raise taxes??

        I don’t know what world you’re living in, but it ain’t this one.

        1. Michael Rodgers

          You don’t want modest ethics reforms. So don’t go there. You want the Democratic Party to be the party of Marijuana and Gambling. Instead of fighting the good fight. Jesus, Tyler, I don’t even want to know you.

          1. Tyler Jones

            70% of South Carolinians support medical marijuana which will help patients with cancer, epilepsy, and PTSD. (http://www.southcarolinaradionetwork.com/2014/04/16/sc-ok-with-medical-marijuana-according-to-new-poll/)

            80% of Democratic primary voters support legalizing casinos to pay for road repairs.

            And I’ve seen private polling that shows that a clear majority of SC voters favor legalizing casinos in Myrtle Beach to pay for road repairs.

            So while you demand infeasible tax hikes and a continuation of the war on drugs, I’ll join the majority of South Carolinians in advocating for innovate solutions to our state’s REAL problems, while at the same time creating jobs, keeping taxes low, and bringing in billions in new tax revenue.

            But good luck fighting that “good fight.”

            1. Brad Warthen Post author

              Tyler, I apologize that your comment got held back until I saw it in the “pending” queue just now. That happens sometimes with comments with multiple links.

            2. Michael Rodgers

              I’m glad you believe in what you are doing, making the Democratic Party the party of marijuana and gambling.

  7. Pat

    I don’t know why not…might as well. The education lottery is already “paying” for education, and if the legislature gets the state in the marijuana business, we could have enough left over to hire the DSS employees, computer techs, and patrolman we need. If not, we can collect from all the New York trash and German nuclear waste. We should be wading in high cotton. Casinos would pave the way for all those tourists coming to support us and pay for our water bottles and gas masks…

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      But, of course, as you suggest with the quotation marks, the lottery is NOT “paying” for education. The sales tax is.

      Just to make sure no one is confused on that point.

      Mostly what the lottery has done is provide a price support for tuition in SC. So many kids get the lottery-funded scholarship that SC colleges have been able to raise tuition through the roof.

      And I don’t blame them. If THIS is the way the Legislature is going to fund higher ed in this state — through lottery-subsidized tuition rather than general appropriations going straight to the institutions — then the schools have to act accordingly.

      It’s made me think that, as someone who believes in public higher ed, maybe I should start buying the occasional lottery ticket — since my lawmakers don’t choose to tax me for that purpose…

      1. Pat

        Brad, I understand your point on the education lottery, but want to note that many, many SC citizens still think most of the lottery money goes to public K-12 schools. And really, the SC sales tax doesn’t come close to paying the cost of K-12 education., especially during a recession. The other thing that really bugs me is that the state lottery is off limits to elected and appointed South Carolina officials so these people are effectively prevented from this financial support of South Carolina education. This restriction even includes notaries.
        This is the law that Attorney General’s 2002 ruling is based on:
        SECTION 8. Officers gambling and betting.
        It shall be unlawful for any person holding an office of honor, trust or profit to engage in gambling or betting on games of chance; and any such officer, upon conviction thereof, shall become thereby disqualified from the further exercise of the functions of his office, and the office of said person shall become vacant, as in the case of resignation or death.
        This is the summary of the 2002 ruling:
        “The State Lottery is off limits to thousands upon thousands of state and local officials – appointed as well as elected. The State Constitution prohibits any public official who exercises some portion of the sovereign power of the State from gambling or betting on any game of chance. This prohibition includes playing the State Lottery. From the Governor of South Carolina, to legislators and judge, to assistant attorneys general and assistant solicitors, to county and city officials such as tax assessors or law enforcement officers or zoning board members, the State Lottery is off limits. No public official – state, county, municipal or other – may play the State Lottery without being subjected to forfeiture of his or her office.”
        Relying on gambling and out of state trash and nuclear waste is no way to support government. Either the people want the services enough to pay for it or they don’t.

  8. Mark Stewart

    Here is how leadership works: you stake out a position that you know is the right way to move forward, even (or especially) when that is not the then accepted approach. And then you make that case until other people begin to echo , and magnify, a message more in line with what you were espousing. And then you see others have grasped things you missed and you readjust your message. And you keep pushing forward. You never waver, even as you compromise in ways that will add to the momentum. Gradually, the accepted wisdom comes into wider and wider question. And more people are willing to identify with your message. They don’t parrot your points, however; they are invested in their own conceptualization that has flowered from your message. And it aligns with others’ beliefs. And change occurs; visible only in hindsight.

    That is leadership.

    Advocating for an Atlantic City in the South (forgetting the existing “reality” of Biloxi) is not leadership for a sustainable and ever-improving future. South Carolina deserves a message that isn’t morally, ethically and philosophically bankrupt.

    The possibilities for SC are endless. Improvement is possible in every area. The gas tax is more likely to be raised than it is to remain as it is. Explain to the people why this is the reality. Get out ahead of the “inevitable” and lead. And always remember leaders do fail sometimes; but they are never, ever defeatists.

    1. Tyler Jones

      Nice speech, but how are you going to convince a bunch of Tea Partiers to break a tax pledge and risk their political careers? If they vote for it, they will likely lose a primary to an even more conservative challenger, one who surely won’t vote for a tax increase. Nice speeches about leadership ain’t going to change that reality. But be my guest. Call me in a few years and let me know how you got 40 Republicans in the House and 30 Republicans in the Senate to override a veto of a tax increase. As Buddy Holly said…that’ll be the day…that I die.

      1. Michael Rodgers

        Easy. Make it a referendum for the people of South Carolina to vote on. TEA Partiers love popular vote and will hope that the people will reject it. Meanwhile they’re off the hook themselves because all they did was to vote for a referendum. Next?

        1. Tyler Jones

          You act like this is so simple. Makes me think you don’t quite understand the politics of taxes in this state. That’s definitely MORE likely to pass, but still unlikely. But what happens if voters don’t approve it? If you put casinos vs. higher taxes on the ballot, I think I know which one voters would vote for.

            1. Doug Ross

              “Right” in the opinion of a minority of people?

              How many states that have casino gambling would reverse that decision?

              Tyler is exactly right. Why don’t you and Mark compromise and allow the people to decide on BOTH ideas? Because, as I have always said, people really don’t compromise.

            2. Doug Ross

              Hobby Lobby is a perfect example of a compromise decision. You should be applauding it.

        2. Brad Warthen Post author

          Let me go on record here (as I have so many times before) as being opposed to any plan that involves a referendum.

          I believe in republican government, not direct democracy.

      2. Mark Stewart

        This is a solvable problem because it has a steeply increasing obsolescence curve. The longer the state dwadles, the higher and higher the repair/replacement bill grows.

        I moved to SC in 2004 and left in 2012. It was amazing to see the decay of the highway infrastructure over those few short years – even with the stimulus repaving projects.

        So, no, I do not agree that the correct path is capitulation. This is not a theoretical discussion of the benefits of ethics reform. This is a story of accelerating physical decay that the voters experience personally each day in a visceral way. Messaging the need to invest in long range, holistic solutions to this problem now will get out in front of the inevitable increase in understanding of the problem that voters will gain as the decay continues. Thought leadership will be translated into legislative ability to override the irrational negativists who hold SC back economically and socially.

        The real problem today is that no one seems to believe with conviction that good governance can be a winning political strategy. The only thing that shackles the state and politically regards her growth is the fear to stand up and be counted.

        Do the right thing. Make the case. Paint the opponents for what they are – respectfully. Educate the voters. Grind forward no matter what the setback. Cut deals along the way to build momentum. Sell the truth; it is easier to buy than your demoralized self seems to believe. Bottom line: Offer compelling, pursuasive, empowering leadership – it is what people really want. And they are not getting it in the SC legislature – from either party.

    2. Barry

      and you frame the opposition as “hateful” and “biased” – etc;

      IN today’s world, if you frame the opponents as hateful and greedy- you are going to eventually win no matter if you are being honest or not.

      (BTW- I am in favor of raising the gas tax)

  9. Doug Ross

    I am favor of increasing the gas tax right up to the point it is implemented and the government wastes it.

    1. Silence

      Doug, as usual you are 100% correct. There’s NO shortage of tax revenue, what we have is too many wasteful spending projects. Gambling on education didn’t solve any of our state’s problems, and Myrtle Beach doesn’t need the traffic and headaches that come with yet another tourist attraction. Has anyone noticed the rash of casinos in Atlantic City filing for bankruptcy? Here’s my plan:
      1) repeal the $.02 hospitality tax.
      2) put a 20 year moratorium on new road construction – if we can’t afford to maintain what we have, we certainly can’t afford new stuff.
      3) discuss raising the gas tax to the level required to sustain existing infrastructure.

      1. Bryan Caskey

        Silence, don’t be crazy! You’re proposing that the State make decisions and prioritize what gets funded is insane. That will require the State to actually do cost-benefit analysis, possibly anger constituents, and reduce opportunities for graft.

        Cutting wasteful and/or unnecessary programs is not a legitimate option, you winger! Shut up and contribute more of your money to the State so it doesn’t have to make budget decisions. Budgets only go up, and government programs never die.

        P.S. Never been to Myrtle Beach in my entire life. Don’t plan on going, either.

        1. Silence

          North Myrtle Beach is actually very nice, but keep that just between us. I don’t want anyon else to know.

  10. Lynn T

    It would have been helpful, as a first step toward understanding the dynamics on this issue, if the reform bill H.3945 had passed the General Assembly and we had disclosure of officials’ private sources of income. Consulting fees, for example.

  11. Brad Warthen Post author

    Tyler, I do appreciate your position. I do. And I fully understand when House Democrats react to what I say by saying I don’t have to be accountable to voters, and I don’t have to deal with the challenge of getting anything passed, etc.

    But here’s the thing about that: I believe that someone in South Carolina ought to tell the truth. If there’s a sensible, responsible, grownup position, then someone, somewhere, ought to come out and state it. I have found that often, both Republicans and Democrats come up with excuses not to do that. So, as editorial page editor of South Carolina’s capital city newspaper, I made a point of doing that. It got to be a habit, one that I’m not likely to break.

    So the governor has taken an irresponsible position (proposing to fix roads without proposing a way to pay for it). What’s new? The proper response is not to come up with an even more irresponsible position. I get the sense, reading between the lines of what Todd is saying, that he’s trying to one-up the governor. It comes across like a double-dare contest — Oh, so you’re going to do THAT crazy thing? Well, I’m gonna do THIS crazy thing!

    He’s taunting the libertarians of the House GOP to support his proposal, saying, “Anyone who loves individual freedom, personal liberty, and lower taxes should get behind this issue 110%.” He’s mocking them. Well, they deserve to be mocked. But that doesn’t mean that what he’s suggesting, in the course of mocking them, is a responsible proposal.

    Basically, what this proposal allowed the governor to do was to come across as the responsible party, with her spokesman saying, “Legalizing gambling doesn’t solve any problems – it creates them, and Gov. Haley believes South Carolina simply deserves better ideas than that… The governor, like the majority of South Carolinians, doesn’t support casino gambling and will never take any action that allows it to happen here.”

    She comes across as the person who wants what’s best for SC. Which isn’t fair, since she is proposing to fix the roads without proposing a way to pay for it. She shouldn’t be able to get away with that. But Rutherford, by putting forth a bad idea for funding the roads, has given her an out and enabled her to look like the responsible one.

    Also… your defense is that the gas tax is politically unfeasible. Well, just how feasible is Rutherford’s proposal? You still have the same situation you’ve had since 1995 — Democrats are in the distinct minority, and NOTHING happens in the House that the Republican caucus doesn’t choose to support. Which course do you think the GOP is likely to take? Do you think they will say, “Thank you, Mr. Rutherford, for this great idea; we’ll put casinos in Myrtle Beach and fix our roads?” Or will they treat it as the bad idea that it is, and blame the Democrats for putting it out there?

    I think the latter is more likely.

    I believe that you believe this is the more realistic approach. I just disagree. I think the reality is that this is just as likely to get shot down as a serious proposal to raise the gas tax would be. But isn’t it better to get shot down proposing what is best for SC rather than something that is not?

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      There’s one way that I can see this as a responsible move — that’s if the House Democrats are hoping that, by putting forth something as unpalatable as the casino idea, they hope to push the more responsible Republicans toward the gas tax.

      That would fit. Seen in that light, Todd’s rhetoric — “Rutherford also challenged those who may oppose casinos in Myrtle Beach to offer up an alternative plan that accomplishes the goal of repairing our roads.” — makes a lot of sense.

      That seems a high-risk maneuver. But it would be an unusually selfless one. Democrats would really be falling on their swords to do that…

      1. Silence

        They could swap a gas tax increase for an elimination of the H-tax. I’d support that all day long.

  12. Brad Warthen Post author

    And in response to Bryan, when he says:
    Cutting wasteful and/or unnecessary programs is not a legitimate option, you winger! Shut up and contribute more of your money to the State so it doesn’t have to make budget decisions. Budgets only go up, and government programs never die.
    … I will say what I’ve always said. Here is how government SHOULD work. We should start from scratch, as though we have no state government. We should then decide, through our elected representatives, what state government should do. Then we should figure out what that realistically costs. Then we should come up with a fair, stable, balanced tax system to pay for it. Not gimmicks or dodges. We should just act like grownups and dig into our pockets and pay for the government we’ve decided we need.

    But no, it doesn’t work like that. Lawmakers don’t bite the bullet, look at the whole thing, and set priorities. And for that reason, it’s grossly irresponsible to do what the “limited government” people keep doing — trying to starve government. They do this by devising a tax system that, being too heavy on sales tax, is way too sensitive to fluctuations in the economy.

    Then, when the economy slows down, and revenues drop disporportionately, they throw up their hands and say, “Well, the one thing we CAN’T do is raise taxes.” And they rub their hands with delight that the hated thing, government, is going to have to get by on less money.

    So what happens next? Do lawmakers devise a budget that cuts out all the alleged “fat” and “waste” and preserves vital programs? No. Time and again, what they do is cut across the board.

    That’s why it’s so irresponsible for the governor to propose to fix our infrastructure based on growth in the budget. What that means is that she would starve the rest of government to do this, making sure that none of the other agencies that were cut over the last few years get restored. So, just to cite one example among many, there will continue to be too few caseworkers at DSS…

  13. Bryan Caskey

    We should start from scratch, as though we have no state government. We should then decide, through our elected representatives, what state government should do. Then we should figure out what that realistically costs. Then we should come up with a fair, stable, balanced tax system to pay for it. Not gimmicks or dodges. We should just act like grownups and dig into our pockets and pay for the government we’ve decided we need.

    My reaction to this comment.

    1. Doug Ross

      This goes back to what Tyler was saying. Suggesting that the legislature do what we already know is impossible is a waste of time. Vincent Sheheen can’t do it. .

      How about this? Increase the gas tax by 5 cents a year for the next five years. Put all that funding into roads. At the end of five years have a ballot initiative to eliminate the additional tax or roll it back. Prove that the roads will be improved.

      And put casinos in Myrtle Beach but eliminate the lottery.

      There’s two compromise positions. What is your offer for compromise?

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        Doug, as I said above…

        Let me go on record here (as I have so many times before) as being opposed to any plan that involves a referendum.

        I believe in republican government, not direct democracy.

        1. Michael Rodgers

          You probably mean representative republican government. Is that what we have?

            1. Michael Rodgers

              Sorry — I was trying to be snide and shouldn’t have. With gerrymandering, the no raising taxes pledge, etc., etc., I don’t think that our representatives represent us. For example, every right-leaning, left-leaning, and center-leaning person here is willing to raise the gas tax as part of the solution, but no one in our state government will go anywhere near common sense.

      2. Silence

        1) Replace SC’s current tax structure with an increased sales & property tax. Eliminate the income tax over the next 4 years. Eliminate the H-tax over the next 4 years as well. Cap the maximum total sales tax (state+local) at 10%.
        1a) Eliminate some of the property tax reductions or exemptions for owner-occupied properties, which will flatten the property tax base. There’s too large a disparity between residential and commercial property taxes.
        2) Raise the gas tax to a reasonable level and index it for inflation. Don’t charge a percentage like sales tax. I’d say double it from the current levels to start. Treat the gas tax receipts as a highway trust fund. Dont’ borrow against it, and don’t spend more in any given year than it takes in.
        3) Eliminate the lottery and fund education out of the general fund. Make existing academic scholarships contingent upon staying and working in SC after graduation, say forgive 5k/year. If you leave soon after graduation for NYC, Charlotte or Atlanta – your scholarship just converted into a student loan. In this way we could encourage our “best and brightest” to go to college in SC, and also to stay as productive citizens. Give exemptions for people who leave the state to go to grad school, but only if they agree to come back when they are done.

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          A very thoughtful set of proposals — better, and more coherent, than anything I’ve seen come out of the State House since I came home to SC to observe state politics in 1987.

          Three objections:
          — Eliminating the income tax. I see no reason for it, and I’m a believer in a three-legged system.
          — Raising the sales tax still further. What I’d do instead is eliminate exemptions, and expand it to cover services as well as good.
          — We ALREADY fund education out of the general fund. But we should go back to funding more of it with property taxes rather than the sales tax.

          I particularly applaud your suggestion that we roll back almost two decades of terrible decisions that have distorted the distribution of burden on the property tax.

          1. Silence

            Not a big fan of the income tax. Here it’s remarkably regressive, since the top 7% rate kicks in at $14,250. Other states seem to do just fine without it. Florida, Tennessee, Texas and soon, North Carolina.

            1. Mark Stewart

              The other way of looking at it is that the income tax rate is higher than you would like because the residential property tax rate is so low.

              The dirty little secret in SC is how low the taxes are on large parcels of land. Want to lower your effective property tax rate? Buy 25+ acres of land. Want an even lower rate to value? Buy coastal land or land on and around Lake Murray. Want capital gains appreciation as well? Buy that land in the path of development.

              SC’s legislative state was set up to benefit the plantation owners. Nothing has changed. If you want to slide through the state’s tax structure you just have to think like one.

        2. Bryan Caskey

          “Give exemptions for people who leave the state to go to grad school, but only if they agree to come back when they are done.”

          THAT’s a pretty good idea.

        3. bud

          Silence those are some pretty good starting points. The gas tax idea is especially good. I’ve never understood why this is even slightly controversial. It’s clearly a tax earmarked for a specific, related purpose – road construction and maintenance. If you don’t like paying the tax don’t use the roads. Of course we all use roads to a certain extent so as a practical matter that’s not really possible. But you can drive less or in a smaller car. Sure beats the heck out of toll roads.

          I would probably increase the property taxes on second homes. They are a luxury after all.

          End the sales tax limit on vehicles. At least increase it from the super low level where it is now.

          The income tax could be structured somewhat to make it more progressive.

          I would also impose some type of inheritance tax on large estates.

          The sales tax is pretty regressive but since it exempts food it’s not too awful.

          I would get rid of the lottery and bring back video poker and other forms of gambling, maybe a dog or horse racing track. All would have a tax component. If people want to gamble, fine with me, but don’t have the government run a gambling operation.

          Legalize pot and tax it. Colorado is raking in the money with virtually zero adverse affects. Crime is actually down a bit.

          1. Silence

            Instead of adding dog racing and horse racing, perhaps we could add dog fighting and cock fighting instead. Since we’d be the only state where it was legal (I think) we’d have a virtual monopoly…. Maybe also bear baiting.

            This guy approves:

            Before anyone jumps my crap, that was sarcasm…. I don’t believe in dog fighting or cock fighting.

    2. Brad Warthen Post author

      Well, however you and Don Draper may scoff, that is actually the responsible way to do government. Yes, it’s painfully obvious, but based on their actions, it would be news to many elected officials.

  14. Bart

    South Carolina will not move forward until the 2 most powerful men in SC are no longer in office, Harrell and Leatherman, especially Leatherman. If any legislation or tax increase of any type is introduced without their blessing, it is DOA. If SC wants change, vote both out of office and never allow either one to have access to any state legislator under any circumstances. Once the dinosaurs are reduced to bones in a museum, South Carolina will see positive things start to happen.

  15. Karen Pearson

    Has anyone else noticed that since the “education lottery” was introduced, colleges are getting less and less funding from the legislature. We’re not adding money to the education pot; we’re replacing a legitimate source of funding that everyone contributes to with one that taxes the arithmetically impaired (who, strangely enough, are primarily people who can afford it least). Do we really want to do this again with roads? BTW, with casino gambling becoming more and more common, casino profits are going down. I suspect we’d lose this one badly.

    1. Silence

      Karen, I’ve been noticing that since the Lottery was introduced. It mostly just supplanted other funding. Also, see my comment about Atlantic City casinos going bust above. I’m sure the legislature would find some way to issue economic development bonds for casino projects that would leave taxpayers holding the bag when the expected profits don’t materialize.

  16. Kathryn Braun Fenner

    Well, they could fund higher education with a beer tax. At least there’s some circularity going there….

    1. Silence

      Alcohol is pretty highly taxed already. First the feds tax it, then the states tax it, then when it is sold at retail, they charge you sales tax on top of all of the other taxes! That is some B.S.

  17. Doug Ross

    Atlantic City is and always will be a dump. I went there to the casinos for the first time in 1985.

    Done right, a casino can be a huge boon to an economy. Mohegan Sun in CT is a great example – really nicely done, good restaurants, an entertainment arena that gets the biggest stars (Springsteen did two nights there in April). Cherokee in NC has come a long way since it has opened and the last time I was there, I saw a lot of new schools, new public buildings, etc. that were likely funded by the tourism.

    A casino area in Myrtle Beach would attract a huge number of tourists in the offseason. One hour from I95… How many snowbirds would stop in on the way to Florida?

    And before anyone pulls out the “gambling addiction” sob stories, those addicts exist already and gamble illegally whenever they want to right now.

  18. Ralph Hightower

    Reasons why Rutherford’s legislation won’t or shouldn’t fly: “Lost Trust”, “Video Poker”, “James Metts”. I didn’t bother voting in either primary first vote because there were too many kooks running against Lindsey Graham or for Lt. Guv, who promised what they can’t deliver.
    Those questions on each primary ballot were nothing more than “Feel Good” questions. The Republicans and Democrats try to trick the voters to their primary with the promise that this will become state or national law.

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