The two chambers of the South Carolina legislature are in the midst of a little game of who can out tax who. While this is April Fools Day, the measures being debated in Columbia are no joke to Palmetto State taxpayers.
A few weeks ago the SC House passed a budget which included a 30 cent per pack, 428% tax hike on cigarettes. Some South Carolina House members did not want their vote for higher taxes in the midst of an economic downturn on record, so the portion of the state budget that included the tobacco tax hike was voted on anonymously. I know, talk about infinite courage and transparency.
Rep. Joey Millwood (R-Spartanburg), to his credit, held his colleagues accountable by offering an amendment to remove the cigarette tax hike. While the amendment was subsequently defeated 106-12, it at least forced the tax hikers to stand up and be counted. This will come in very handy in November.
The Senate, which is working on the budget this week has decided to do the House one better and is taking up the 50 cent per pack, 714% hike that was passed by the House last year but subsequently stalled in the Senate. For a list of all Senators that have signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, and will have violated their central campaign promise to voters with an “aye” vote, click here.
Need further proof that many of these Republican legislators are not as conservative or fiscally responsible as they claim? Keep in mind that this tobacco tax hike is also an effort to draw down more federal matching funds in order to put off addressing the state’s over spending problem. Let me be clear (as Obama would say), no South Carolina legislator that votes in favor of making their state more dependant on a federal government that is over $12 trillion in debt can fancy themselves fiscally conservative.