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February 2002 Update: No Taxes, No Problem
Jimmy Moore
February 3, 2002

No taxes, no problem!

As part of his "new conservative agenda," GOP gubernatorial candidate Charlie Condon's proposal to eliminate personal property taxes in South Carolina is one of the best ideas to come along this election year. It just might be his ticket to the governor's mansion in November (a full press release on his plan can be found at http://www.schotline.com/condon0122.htm).

South Carolina Attorney General and Republican candidate for governor Charlie Condon said at a recent press conference that "the most regressive and unfair of all the taxes we levy in South Carolina are the taxes applied to personal property, business property and real estate." Condon has endorsed an important issue that will resonate with voters come election time. He realizes that less taxes equals a better economy. Indeed, when you talk about letting people keep more of their hard earned money, that translates into votes. Condon is positioning himself as the leading candidate in the upcoming GOP gubernatorial primary in June.

Condon's plan to replace the $2.3 billion in revenue currently produced by personal property taxes includes closing the sales tax "loopholes." Two examples of sales tax exemptions that Condon would eliminate include those given to newsprint and for power sources sold to manufacturers. This will free up approximately $1.3 billion to make up for the loss of property tax revenue.

Although his proposal may call for a slight increase in the sales tax (only two cents!), Condon feels this is a more equitable way of sharing the tax burden among all South Carolina residents. This very small increase in the sales tax, which has been overwhelmingly supported by the people attending his Town Hall meetings, will make up the remaining $1 billion in personal property tax revenue. Indeed, a sales tax is a better and more efficient way of collecting revenue for the state and local governments.

Condon also proposes capping government administrative spending at 25%. This will force localities to use more of their money on real education expenses such as teachers, books and other classroom materials. The savings from this part of his proposal are not as important as the responsibility it places on local government to have sound economic policy. This is what Condon views is the key to his proposal.

Condon said the elimination of personal property taxes would help revive the weakened South Carolina economy. "Young couples are afraid to buy their first home because property tax assessments have become so outrageous. Laid off workers, retirees and older couples on fixed incomes are often forced to sell their homes, their land and their heritage because they can't afford the rising cost of the tax bill." Furthermore, he said that South Carolina businesses "are reluctant to expand because of the rising cost of corporate property taxes." By eliminating corporate property taxes, small business owners will be able to expand and open new businesses. The resulting effect will be the creation of more jobs in South Carolina. With the unemployment rate in South Carolina currently at 5.7 percent, this is something that is sorely needed.

Charlie Condon's proposal reminds me of another Republican candidate who ran for governor on the issue of eliminating personal property taxes a few year ago. His name is Jim Gilmore. After running a campaign on no more car taxes, he was elected governor of Virginia. More importantly, he kept his promise to eliminate the car tax by successfully getting legislation passed and signed into law. His 5-year plan was enacted in 1998. Thanks to the vision of Gov. Gilmore, the car tax in Virginia will be successfully eliminated this year.

Charlie Condon wants to hear from you about what you think of his proposal. He will be conducting Town Hall meetings across the state to see what people think of his policy (see a current list of meetings at http://www.commonvoice.com/releases.asp?article=112). The response so far has been in favor of this proposal. If you think eliminating personal property taxes is bad public policy, then go tell him why.

Four simple words express best how I feel about this plan: no taxes, no problem!

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