COLUMBIA -- Four-dollar gas should offer enough incentive to buy a plug-in hybrid vehicle argued state lawmakers Wednesday before defeating a bill that would have offered consumers income-tax breaks for buying the vehicles.
By a vote of 24-67, the S.C. House rejected H. 3059, a bill that would have extended an existing incentive program to award those who purchase a plug-in car $2,000 against their income taxes.
In the last fiscal year, 10 taxpayers took advantage of the program, claiming the plug-in hybrid vehicle income-tax credit for a total of $18,910.
Some lawmakers also raised the objection that vehicles that do not run solely on motor fuel do not contribute their fair share to the state's gas taxes, which maintain the state's roadways.
Others, such as Rep. Laurie Funderburk, D-Camden, said lawmakers should focus on comprehensive tax reform, not special exemptions.
A set of recommendations to eliminate dozens of South Carolina's sales-and-use tax exemptions put forward by the S.C. Tax Realignment Commission is generally considered to be dead for the year.
"When you're campaigning, how many of you told your constituents or agreed with your constituents that we did need comprehensive tax reform in South Carolina?" said Funderburk, an attorney.
"I know there's no good time to take up such a sticky issue. (but) We're in this thing called the permanent campaign now."
What's more, said Funderburk, who said she had promoted a similar plug-in car incentive years earlier, "The Prius is now in the mainstream."
Rep. Gary Simrill, R-Rock Hill, Rep. Harry Ott, D-St. Matthews, and Rep. B.R. Skelton, R-Six Mile, also raised questions.
"It's more important to buy a plug in vehicle than it is to buy a house?" said Skelton.
Among the 24 lawmakers who had voted for the bill were Beaufort County Republicans Rep. Bill
Herbkersman of Bluffton, Rep. Shannon Erickson of Beaufort, and Rep. Andy Patrick of Hilton Head Island.
Reach Sarita Chourey at firstname.lastname@example.org or (803) 727-4257