We’re all better off when we’re all better off

SC Education Association Jackie Hicks addresses the shortfall in education funds that could be helped by Leventis’ bill. See more photos from the press conference here.

The TRAC recommendations on sales taxes would raise nearly $1 billion next year and more in coming years. This is close to what we need to meet these mandatory spending levels, and more comprehensive tax reforms would meet and exceed them for years to come.

“The critical debate I hope to spark,” Leventis said, “is whether the role of our government is shaped by the special-interest groups who make the majority of campaign contributions, or by the citizens who pay the taxes. I believe that citizens are willing to pay fair and equitable taxes when they get their money’s worth. It’s called democracy.”

In this year’s House budget:

• The statutory funding level for the Education Finance Act was cut by $665 million, keeping our per-pupil funding at 1998 levels.

• The statutory funding for local governments’ support of police, fire and public services was cut $71 million.

• The revenue from the extra penny of sales tax for Act 388 was $129.5 million short of what was needed for education funding through sales tax, rather than property tax, requiring another raid on the General Fund.

The House budget shorted mandatory funding of these core public services by nearly $736 million. If you add the $129.5 million shifted from the General Fund, you come up with just about what the TRAC recommendations could recover through broad and fair sales tax reforms.

The TRAC Recommendations Act (S 1454) would:

• Raise the $300 “max tax” on cars, boats and planes and raise $61-$143 million annually as increased caps kick in.

• Tax food (not purchased with food stamps) at an effective rate of 2.41%, raising $251 million next year. 18.2% of the state’s population is receiving SNAP benefits and will pay no tax on food.

• Tax non Medicaid/Medicare medicine (with a $100 cap) and home utilities at an effective rate of 1.25%, raising $124 million next year. Those on Medicare or Medicaid (44% of the state’s children) will pay no tax on medicine.

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1 comment on this post.
  1. susan dean:

    I think you should increase the tax on alcohol by 5-10%! I have seen too many deaths and so much human pain from alcohol and it would be a healthier and safer step to take rather than taxing people’s food or utilities. Duke Powers is already too high, wanting more and people are struggling very hard to have food and lights, warmth and water. S.C. needs to pull itself up by providing better early childhood education programs, parent education and support, better drug, alcohol rehabilitation programs. It is also very important that we protect our environment – and that means protecting the nature and trees that we have and keeping our air and water and soil from poisons. Wonder what that would add to the budget in health care savings.

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