South Carolina’s New Gas Tax – Governor McMaster’s Veto Override

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By Dzhingarov

South Carolina has one of the lowest gas taxes out of all US states and this will definitely change in the near future. Gov. Henry McMaster vetoed the decision of the US Senate and the House Of Representatives, a bill that raised the gas tax in the state for the very first time since 1987. As a response, his veto was overruled.

Specialists did highlight an analysis of the very first political losses for the governor since January, when he took over for Nikki Haley. July 1st will be the very first increase, 2 cents out of the projected 12 cents.

Besides the veto being overwritten, the House also ended up attacking the governor. Jay Lucas, House Speaker, had a heated speech on the floor, stating:

“I believe he (Gov. McCaster) chose to listen to campaign consultants instead of the people of South Carolina. Here we are again to show the real leadership in this state resides in this body.”

Different other Democrats and Republicans condemned the veto and criticizes alternative proposals to fix state roads. Gov. McMaster requested close to $5.2 billion from the government and wanted to issue $1 billion of state bonds. The idea was presented by Caskey as he said that the governor had his chance but getting money from the federal government and issuing state bonds was not a plan that could be seen as valid.

Senators pushing the new gas tax were not that critical of the governor. They were mainly interested in talking about the bipartisan lawmakers group that was brought together. This officially marks the largest investment in infrastructure in the history of South Carolina. Senator Vincent Sheheen praised the Democrats and Republicans that worked together and then went on to claim that he wished that the governor would have supported their efforts.

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As the gas tax increases, together with other driver fees, state funding for roads will increase by close to $600 million every single year. McMaster declared for months that he is opposed to tax increases. As his veto was officially declared, he said that it is a simple “Act of capitulation.” According to Gov. McMaster, this will be the largest gas tax increase in the history of the state as it is implemented. This was said to have an effect on working and poor families.

The gas tax in South Carolina is now 16.75 cents per 1 gallon. 12 extra cents are going to be added at the rate of 2 per year, leading to 28.75 cents per gallon when the increase is over. DOT declared that it needs around $500 million extra per year in order to improve state repaving operations. For highway widening and similar projects more will be needed.

The Republican-led Statehouse was now fighting with a member of the leading party but this is not new. It has happened before and the same was the case with the past governor. However, what is of interest for South Carolina citizens is that in theory the gas tax increases are going to lead to better roads.