Fight brewing ahead of debate on SC roads bill - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Fight brewing ahead of debate on SC roads bill

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) -

Despite promises to take up the roads bill first thing this year, lawmakers still haven't brought it to a vote and now a fight is brewing between some senators and the anti-tax group opposing the bill.

One anti-tax group is paying the gas tax here in the Midlands on Wednesday morning, covering 45 cents per gallon, but lawmakers say the group is missing the point.

Americans for Prosperity, one of the staunchest opponents to raising the gas tax to fund road repairs, is offering to pay drivers' gas tax in Lexington Wednesday.

State senators Shane Massey and Katrina Shealy say "fill 'er up."

"I encourage everybody to stop by and take advantage of it," Massey said. "Make sure you spend all their money."

Dave Schwartz, one of the South Carolina representatives of the group, said lawmakers' response to the group's plan is "sad," but expected.

"It's typical politician behavior that they think they're above everybody else," Schwartz said.

The standoff between Senators Massey and Shealy and the anti-tax group stem from AFP's grassroots anti-gas tax campaign

"They have phone calls that have gone out, and they have a script that this group has given them, and this script is, to put it politely, very deceptive about what's actually been happening," Massey said. 

Massey says AFP focuses only on the gas tax, failing to point out the other two issues at hand: DOT reform and income tax cuts. But, according to AFP, no plan offered up is acceptable so far, saying the reform doesn't go far enough and the tax is too much.

"They don't need more of our money and they need to change the system because, right now, they're wasting billions of dollars," Schwartz said.

As for the actual road bill itself, it's stuck in President Pro Tem Hugh Leatherman's compromise committee, which had hoped to bring it to the floor Tuesday. 

"I understand they're probably making some progress. I ask that you carry that over," Leatherman said. 

The way the gas tax debate has developed, lawmakers say three big proponents -- DOT reform, a gas tax increase and income tax cut -- are all required.

Massey said trying to pass each piece individually, or drastically altering the road funding proposal, would make it much more difficult to pass.

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