The Senate Finance Committee approved a bill Tuesday to let voters decide whether to renew a sales tax meant for road improvements.
Already counties can vote at the time of the general election to decide whether to fund infrastructure with a one-cent sales tax increase. The tax expires up to 25 years after the voters approve the tax via referendum.
Sen. Larry Grooms, R-Charleston, co-sponsored the tax-renewing legislation so voters in Berkley County, which he represents, could decide whether to extend their penny tax for another seven years.
Senators at the meeting who hoped to advance a bill on the Senate floor to let voters decide whether to raise taxes for education improvements teased Sen. Kevin Bryant, R-Anderson, for being inconsistent on taxes. He has argued for several weeks against that bill by Sen. Tom Young, R-Aiken. Young proposed an amendment to apply the referendum to Aiken County only. The Senate carried the bill over Tuesday.
“Let my people go,” joked Sen. Harvey Peeler, R-Gaffney. Earlier that afternoon, the committee took up a bill by Peeler that was similar to Young’s proposal.
The committee approved that bill, but Bryant placed a minority report on it. He said he didn’t support it because it was a statewide bill, and because of concerns with a slow recovery from the recession and with what he called the Unaffordable Care Act. “I just don’t think our constituents in any part of the state can afford a tax increase,” he said.