State House leaders led the fight for a lean, balanced state budget WITHOUT tax increases.

WASHINGTON – Americans for Tax Reform (ATR), the nation\’s premier taxpayer advocacy group, awarded its monthly "Hero of the Taxpayer" award to South Carolina House Speaker David Wilkins and House Majority Leader Rick Quinn for their tireless leadership for a balanced state budget without tax increases. The award is given to those leaders across the nation who most stand up for the interests of taxpayers.

On Thursday, the South Carolina House approved a $5.1 billion budget for fiscal year 2004 that keeps spending at last year\’s levels, thus avoiding the need for new revenues. Most state agencies will receive a 10-15% cut in funding, without sacrificing health care or education funding. Funding for Medicaid, for example, has been guaranteed, partially through a restructuring of state tobacco bonds.

"The South Carolina House is forcing state agencies to deal with fiscal realities," Said Grover Norquist, President of Americans for Tax Reform. "South Carolinians have to make ends meet in these tough economic times. The state should be required to do the same, rather than raiding the pocketbooks of hard working families. The leadership of David Wilkins and Rick Quinn was vital in passing a no tax increase budget."

The 2004 budget package is expected to go to the Senate next week.

"Rumors have begun to circulate that some officials will be proposing tax increases in the coming weeks," continued Norquist. "But Speaker Wilkins and Leader Quinn have show that tax increases are not necessary. Tax hikes would only transfer money from families to government bureaucrats. David Wilkins and Rick Quinn deserve a "thank you" from all of South Carolina\’s taxpayers."