Originally created 03/31/97

S.C. tax curb ripped

South Carolina Democrats, led by state Rep. Mike Baxley, D-Darlington, charge that the GOP plan to limit local governments' tax powers could open the door for up to a halfbillion dollars in new taxes.

"This bill ... contains the largest potential tax increase in (the state's) history," says Baxley, "a clear violation of the Republicans' `no new taxes pledge."'

What Baxley doesn't say is that without the GOP bill, taxes could rise a lot more than half a billion. The bill is in response to a state Supreme Court ruling opening the way for county and city governments to impose and raise taxes as high as they wish.

The GOP measure, worked out with the state Chamber of Commerce and a local government group, at least restores some restrictions.

The bill would allow localities to levy some accommodation and hospitality taxes. Counties could also ask voters to approve a penny sales tax for infrastructure projects.

Republicans don't like everything in the bill, particularly the part that deletes a "super-majority" vote to boost taxes. They had to settle for a simple majority of all elected members to raise taxes.

Basically, the measure's a compromise. But it's still better than nothing. As House Speaker David Wilkins, RGreenville, asks, "Do you want these restrictions or do you want no restrictions?"

Another question: Do Democrats have anything better?


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