S.C. Senate Smokes Governor’s Veto

Cigs vs Sigs; Tax Increase Vote Trumps Tax Pledge

Today, by a count of a lot to a little, the South Carolina Senate voted to override Governor Sanford’s veto to raise the cigarette tax in our state.

I’ve long thought it was only a matter of time before some form of tobacco tax increase would become law. Whether you’re for or against the measure, the sadness of it all is how much money our state has lost in the last decade of debate.

What most folks don’t realize is there is a federal 3 to 1 dollar match attached to whatever increase each state passes. What this means is that South Carolina has lost out on hundreds of millions of dollars over the years of debate.

About a decade ago, members of the general assembly were asked to sign a “No New Tax Pledge.” Now, imagine a Republican incumbent with a primary opponent. If they didn’t sign this pledge they would’ve been burnt toast as TV ads warned the public about the unwillingness to sign.

Fast forward to the next legislative session(s) and the cigarette tax is introduced again. Any legislator that signed the aforementioned pledge is once again trapped. Even though the tax increase is popular in an incumbent’s district, they were forced to vote “Nay” as to ward off any primary competition and avoid the peppering of “Liar, liar pants on fire!!” TV ads.

Some folks will tout the shame of it all is that “conservative” Republican legislators buckled and deserve a RINO label. I happen to think the shame of it all is that since an increase was obviously inevitable, our state lost out on hundreds of millions of dollars in the name of a dinky yet clever political tactic.

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