Roads and taxes top business leaders' wish list for next legislative session

Published: Sep. 25, 2014 at 11:09 PM EDT|Updated: May. 12, 2016 at 1:21 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - State lawmakers will be heading back to work in January but right now business leaders are making a list of issues they want to see covered.

Every year the Columbia-area Chamber of Commerce, along with the state chamber brings business leaders from all over South Carolina and they ask a simple question: what are you concerned about?

This year it's roads and taxes.

It doesn't matter if you're 100 miles away from the State House or right down the street, we're all affected by state laws and taxes.

Spencer Graham with the Kershaw County Chamber of Commerce said tax increases for local schools hits hard in Kershaw County, which relies heavily on small business.

"Any millage increases for schools is paid for by local businesses only," Graham said.

Graham is one of about a hundred business owners and leaders which met Thursday.

"If our business community grows, then we're going to have job growth," said Boyd Jones with the Columbia-area Chamber of Commerce. "Establishing an agenda from a grassroots level is going to help us better understand what needs to happen at the state level."

The big issues business leaders want legislators to tackle in 2015 include tax reform as well as better access to higher education statewide.

The biggest problem brought up was South Carolina's crumbling roads and infrastructure.

"We have to have money for our roadways," Graham said.

The state's gas tax is at the heart of the debate. It's a flat tax- meaning you're paying the same amount out tax out of your three dollar gallon of gas that you did in 1987 for a 95 cent gallon of gas.

"Several neighboring states account for inflation by having a percentage gas tax," Graham said.

Attempts to raise the gas tax this year fell flat but this is one tax increase business leaders aren't opposed to.

The South Carolina State Chamber of Commerce will be the major lobbying voice for businesses in the state house once the legislature goes back into session.

The ideas brought up at Thursday's meeting will be crafted into a larger agenda of business-friendly goals and benchmarks for the year.

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