Legislative Update – January 26, 2016

The Senate Property Taxation Subcommittee will take up today a joint resolution (H.4633), which passed the House, to extend the application deadline for private schools to participate in the exceptional needs tuition tax credit/voucher program in the 2015-2016 school year to February 15, 2016. The subcommittee is also taking up a similar resolution (S.907) that extends the deadline to March 1, 2016. Some private schools that were approved in the past missed the deadline for this year, resulting in the loss of scholarships/vouchers for their students. The resolution would extend the deadline and allow these schools to reapply for their students to continue receiving scholarships in the current school year. The Senate Finance Committee will take up the South Carolina Infrastructure Finance Reform and Tax Relief Act (H.3579) at 3 p.m. today. The comprehensive roads bill, which passed the House and stalled in the Senate this past session, in general would reduce the state’s 16.75 cents-per-gallon gasoline tax while reinstating a 6 percent sales tax. It enables the governor to appoint the S.C. Department of Transportation Commission, provide a funding mechanism to return some roads to counties and includes $50 million in income tax relief. There is concern about any proposal that shifts the cost of major infrastructure expenses to the General Fund, which funds public services, including K12 education. The cost for major items including roads, bridge construction and repairs should be funded by a dedicated stream of revenue through the Capital Reserves Fund, such as an earlier Senate Finance Committee plan to raise $800 million by increasing the gas tax by 12 cents-per-gallon over a three-year period. However, the governor has vowed to veto any bill that increases the gas tax without a corresponding cut in income taxes.

The House Ways and Means K12 Subcommittee is scheduled to take up agency budget provisos this afternoon.

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