Curtis Loftis helped me decide to vote ‘yes’ on sales tax

As I told y’all, I was really agonizing over the Lexington County sales tax referendum. I knew the county needed some infrastructure funds, but we’ve really put a lot of stress on the sales tax in this state, and the proposal lacked the thing that made me get behind the Richland County penny — the support for the bus system.

But SC Treasurer Curtis Loftis helped me make up my mind, with this release last Friday:


Many local governments and special interest groups across our state have decided that now is the time to raise your taxes. I understand their arguments because I also want better roads, education, drainage, and infrastructure.  However, as your State Treasurer, I have seen how all levels of government “manage and protect” your money, and the current standards are simply unacceptable.

I probably don’t live in your county, so I must respect your right to tax yourselves. However, we must have fundamental change in how our government operates. Implementing true fiscal responsibility and accountability are the first steps government can take to earn our trust.

Since the government and special interests want our money now, the time we should bargain for a “better deal” is now. Let’s say NO to new taxes and YES to meaningful transparency and accountability. Let’s say NO to back room deals with special interest and YES to high-ranking government officials being held responsible for protecting our money and delivering a quality product.

I’m going to vote NO on new taxes at the polls on Tuesday, and I encourage you to do the same.  Let’s give the government and special interests a rain check for a vote on new money until the proper measures are in place to protect our money and deliver what is promised by special interests.

Be well,

Curtis Loftis
Treasurer, State of South Carolina

The next morning, I read in the paper that Loftis was specifically opposing the Lexington sales tax proposal.

Really? Here you are, the top fiscal officer (or one of them) of our state, and you’re going out of your way to say something about a local tax proposal, and that’s it? Instead of an analysis of the pros and cons, you essentially say, “I’m against tax increases, so I’m against this one.” That, and “government is a bad thing, and when it raises taxes, it’s just for special interests, and never for the public’s benefit.” The kind of vague universal condemnation of Man and all his works that a malcontent with no political power (or, who thinks he has no political power) might sit at a bar and mutter to the bartender after a couple too many.

Yeah, thanks for helping me work through this one, guy!

Of course, I was helped even more by Warren Bolton’s thoughtful column Sunday, in which he set out the one argument that settled it for me:

WHILE LEXINGTON County’s proposed Penny for Pavement tax plan has its shortcomings, there’s a grim reality that voters need to understand as they consider whether to approve the measure aimed at addressing chronic congestion, traffic problems and road safety.

No other help is on the way…

Basically, there’s no Plan B. Local governments have few options when it comes to paying for roadwork that the state can’t seem to get its act together on. This was the plan. If important projects were to be funded, this was the option.

So I voted for it.

12 thoughts on “Curtis Loftis helped me decide to vote ‘yes’ on sales tax

  1. Silence

    I think it’s good that Lexington County has stood up and decided to go down a different path than Richland County. In 20 years we will see which path was the correct one, a full scale laboratory experiment of sorts.

    1. Barry

      York County did the penny tax over 4 years ago for road improvements.

      As someone that works in the Rock Hill, Fort Mill, and York County area on a regular basis, their roads are noticeably better than they are in Richland and most of the midlands. In fact, I’ve had a few customers fly into Charlotte on business over the last few years comment on the road conditions in the Rock Hill area.

    2. Brad Warthen

      Silence, this was just Lexington’s first try. Richland failed on the first try, as did Charleston several years back.

      The infrastructure needs aren’t going away, and there is no other way of meeting them on the horizon. So this will be back…

      1. Silence

        I think the Richland one failed marginally, the Lexington one failed to pass dramatically. I think the State said was like a 2:1 margin.

        1. Doug Ross


          If roads are a priority, shift tax dollars from other areas to pay for them. That’s what adults do – prioritize.

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            Adults shift money from trips to Disney, or fancy toys for the kids, or new cars when old cars would do.

            They don’t shift money from paying the mortgage or the light bill.

            Do you actually believe that Lexington County — Lexington County, Ground Zero of anti-tax sentiment in South Carolina — is spending enough money on frills that it could come up with enough for the infrastructure needs without raising additional revenue?

            In my experience, what adults do when they don’t have enough for actual needs is go out and find a way to bring in additional revenue…

            1. Doug Ross

              They are building a new multi million dollar baseball stadium for the Blowfish, aren’t they? How about starting there? I bet there’s plenty of nice new high school football stadiums as well, right?

              My son lives in Lexington. It’s doing fine. Growing by leaps and bounds as far as I can tell. What indicators do you see that Lexington is struggling to meet the demands of its citizens?

              The easiest solution is to raise taxes.

            2. barry

              They are building a 3 million dollar stadium as part of Lexington’s recreational improvements.

              That has proved to be a great investment as Lexington hosts numerous tournaments each year with hundreds of families in attendance at each one. Most are from out of town- and many are from out of state.

              In August alone they hosted the Dixie Youth World Series. That filled well over 1000 hotel rooms for over a week. (36 teams from 11 southeastern states – with their families in tow) The economic impact of just that one week stretch was estimated at over $2 million.

              Lexington is well known in the youth sports community all over the southeast.

          2. barry

            We are talking road construction. Saving $20,000 from the HVAC maintenance budget for the county isn’t going to make a dimple’s worth of difference.

            Adults do prioritize- but smart adults also realize when things need to be done and can’t be put off. When that happens, they often increase their revenue, and they also save where they can.

            I recently had to replace a roof. I didn’t have an extra $10,500 sitting around to replace the roof. But after talking with enough people I realized it had to be done and I had to get it done because putting it off wasn’t going to be a good option.

            I prioritized some things, I cut a few extras, I also shifted some things around, and I also undertook a few things that would increase my revenue to pay for it.

            I didn’t just cut things from my budget. I didn’t just raise my revenue. I did what families do all the time- I did both.

            With all of that said, it’s smart for local governments to keep projects like this as small as possible- and to focus on things that really need to be done. Of course the problem with that is everyone has a different opinion on what needs to be done.

  2. Mike

    Looks like the people decided to listen to Loftis and not you. Surprise, surprise.

    Loftis is correct in not getting into the weeds with his e-blast. People respect him and want to know what he thinks. They know he has studied the issues, so they can rely on him.

    Maybe you should go see him. I have known him for 29 years. He knows his stuff so you might learn something.


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