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Legislature: After meeting, Goldfinch backs Haley tax plan

By Jason Lesley
Coastal Observer

State Rep. Stephen Goldfinch says he’s been convinced that Gov. Nikki Haley’s plan to raise the tax on gasoline and cut state income tax will be good for South Carolina after meeting with her staff last week.

Goldfinch said he had doubts about cutting more than a billion dollars in yearly income tax revenue without a plan to either replace the money or cut the budget. He said he wanted to see more detail from the governor, and her staff moved quickly to win his support.

“Although some details are yet to be finalized,” Goldfinch said in a statement, “I am increasingly confident that the governor’s tax swap and revenue plan are good for South Carolina. It was revealed last week that the current DOT additional requirements, notwithstanding future projects and projections, are approximately $400 million, and not the $1.5 billion per year that was originally reported. Gov. Haley’s plan raises approximately $375 million, and I have hopes that she will take a close look at some of my revenue raising proposals to top the $400 million need. Therefore, my initial concern for adequate funding has been abated.”

State Transportation Secretary Janet Oakley said the governor’s plan isn’t a panacea for the state’s infrastructure issues but an attempt to repair what’s broken. The state Department of Transportation last year projected the state’s transportation funding shortfall at $1.4 billion a year until 2040. Oakley said that figure includes new roads, interchanges and road expansions. She said the state’s first step needs to be restoring the system. DOT has estimated it will cost $400 million a year to maintain the state’s roads in their present condition.

Haley has called for raising the state’s 16.75-cents-a-gallon tax on gasoline by 10 cents over three years, cutting the state’s 7 percent income tax by 2 percent over 10 years and changing the way commissioners are selected for the Department of Transportation. She said the elements were a package deal.

Goldfinch said he still has reservations about eliminating district representation on the highway commission and keep communication links open with legislators and the public. “Right now, our commissioner in the 7th District, Mike Wooten, serves this purpose, and he serves it well,” Goldfinch said. “Regardless of this one minor policy disagreement, I see Gov. Haley’s plan as courageous and progressive.”

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