State Treasurer Urges 'No' Vote On Proposed Lexington County Penny Tax

By Hal Millard
From: Lexington County Chronicle

State Treasurer Curtis Loftis is just saying no to any new taxes — including Lexington County's proposed penny tax.

While other state officials have been mum on their support or opposition to the one-cent sales tax to be decided Nov. 4, Loftis told the Chronicle he doesn't support it, or any new taxes in the state without “transparency and accountability.”

“I think that government and special interests across South Carolina have decided that now is the time to raise taxes. I understand their arguments and I, too, want better roads, bridges, drainage and infrastructure. However, as State treasurer I have seen how all levels of government manage money — and it is deplorable,” Loftis told the Chronicle by email. 

“As state treasurer, I have seen how government fails to protect tax dollars and how it allows special interests to run amok,” he said. “The hardworking people of Lexington County pay enough in taxes, and before we pay a penny more government should prove to us they are worthy. We need a higher level of transparency and accountability. And we need it before we give government and special interests hundreds of millions of additional tax dollars.”

Loftis, who was traveling out west for a conference, didn't respond to a question asking if he had a better idea for how the county should fund its road and infrastructure priorities. Proponents of the tax contend the penny tax is the county's best and only viable option to fix and build new roads and fund a host of other capital projects countywide that seek to handle explosive growth and spur economic development.

Loftis, a Republican running unopposed, said: “Many tax hikes are promoted with questionable information. There are promises made, but not kept; there are back room deals that send millions to special interests and deliver inferior products; and there are poor governmental accounting rules that allow for fraud, waste and abuse. 

“And worst of all, no one ever seems to be responsible for any failure along the way,” he said.

While Loftis has spoken out, other key state officials with ties to Lexington County, including Gov. Nikki Haley and Rep. Joe Wilson, have stayed out of the fray and contend the tax is purely a local issue to be settled by voters.

SCGOP Chairman Matt Moore also said his organization has decided not to take an official stance on the tax measure.

“We tend to leave local things to local parties,” Moore said. “I think [both sides] are having a healthy debate. But regardless of where you stand on that issue, the important thing is to go and vote. You have no right to complain if you don't make your opinion known at the ballot box.”