Originally created 06/08/06

Sanford to allow tax break



COLUMBIA - Leaders of the Senate and the House have signed off on the state budget, property tax breaks and tougher animal fighting legislation.

Those are among more than 57 bills sent to Gov. Mark Sanford's desk after being ratified Wednesday.

Plans to raise the state's sales tax in exchange for eliminating school operating expenses from property tax bills for homeowners was the year's most fought-over legislation.

"Yeah, I'll sign it," Mr. Sanford said Tuesday.

He says he has some misgiving about that. Along with the property tax break, it reduces the state's sales tax on groceries from 5 cents on the dollar to 3 cents and creates a sales tax holiday two days after Thanksgiving.

"We don't like the sales tax holiday for the two days after Thanksgiving," Mr. Sanford said. "If there's a way for me to get in and veto that particular component, I would." He isn't sure a two-day tax holiday makes the state more competitive.

The budget has been getting most of Mr. Sanford's attention this week.

He wanted the $6.6 billion spending plan on his desk last week and legislators back to work this week taking up vetoes. But Senate President Pro Tem Glenn McConnell did not invite House Speaker Bobby Harrell to sign off on the stack of bills before the regular legislative session ended last week.

Mr. Sanford spent Tuesday on the road telling business owners in Anderson, Clinton and Orangeburg that state spending is growing by 13 percent in the fiscal year that begins July 1. He says that's a rate that can't be sustained without future budget cuts or tax increases. He was on the road Wednesday, selling the same message in Aiken, Camden, Greenwood, Rock Hill and Roebuck.

He said he would get down to the business of vetoing hundreds of millions of dollars in planned spending Wednesday night, targeting mostly items that aren't part of the state's "core" operations.

Meanwhile, the governor has vetoed several bills this week, including:

- A bill that would have raised the minimum liability insurance requirement on cars in South Carolina to $25,000 for bodily injury for each person injured in a wreck, $50,000 for all people injured and $25,000 to cover property damage.

- A bill that would have made it illegal for unlicensed motor carriers to advertise.

- A bill that would have banned companies from artificially inflating prices when a state of emergency in another state affects South Carolina, such as gas prices in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Morris News Service reports were used in this article.