S.C. group lobbies for increased gas tax to fix roads

by: Jeff Smith Updated:

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SOUTH CAROLINA —

A South Carolina group has hired two prominent lobbyists to push for an increased gas tax as early as next year.

Gas at an Exxon station in Ft. Mill Thursday night was $3.03 a gallon. Just over the state line, a mile away, it was $3.29 a gallon.

The dramatic price difference causes many Charlotte drivers head south to fill up their tanks. Many drivers said they fill up their tanks across the state line as many as three or four days a week.

Driver Dave McElvaney said he understands the need to fund road improvements and new construction, but can't support a gas tax increase. He said a gas tax punishes all drivers, and instead lawmakers should sit down and make some tough spending cuts.

"Every few pennies of the tax can add up to hundreds of dollars a year," he said. "It hits us in the pocketbook."

A lobbying group called SC Alliance To Fix Our Roads has hired the former chief lobbyist for the State Department of Transportation and the former head of the State Petroleum Council.

The group wants to see higher gas taxes to pay for $50 billion in needed road repairs and construction over the next 20 years.
Charlotte driver Reggie Davis argues cheap gas is a good thing.

"It's a draw for South Carolina. It's a loss for North Carolina," he said.

South Carolina's gas tax is 16 cents a gallon, the third lowest state tax in the nation.

North Carolina's is 39 cents a gallon.

Davis argued that raising the gas tax -- even a little -- would hurt the Palmetto State a lot.

"People won't be inclined to come down here," Davis said. "Right now it's cheaper down here, people are flocking down here, and they're making more money."

SC Alliance To Fix Our Roads hasn't said specifically how much of a tax increase they'd like to see.

Republican Gov. Nikki Haley has said in the past she'd oppose any gas tax hike.