COLUMBIA – Five House Republicans received the ‘Friend of the Taxpayer’ award Wednesday from the South Carolina Association of Taxpayers’ president and founder Don Weaver.

The five were House Majority Leader Jim Merrill, Annette Young of Summerville, Nathan Ballentine of Richland County, Eric Bedingfield of Greenville, and Phil Shoopman of Greer.
“It is an honor to receive this award,” said Majority Leader Merrill. “Writing the state budget and being good stewards of taxpayer dollars is our biggest responsibility. I count on this group to help me hold the line on out-of-control state spending and to lower taxes.”

President Weaver said: “Courageous leaders like these five legislators are consistent champions of the taxpayers and conservative fiscal policy. Not a legislative session goes by while proponents of big government propose more spending and tax increases on the people of South Carolina. We count on these legislators to hold the line.”

The five received the award for different reasons, but the House Republicans have been proactive in the past four years in slashing property taxes, cutting income taxes and eliminating the grocery tax. At the same time, the Republicans have fought off attempts to raise the gasoline tax.

“The state takes in enough hard-earned tax dollars,” Rep. Young said. “We heard repeated calls to raise the gasoline tax during last year’s Department of Transportation reform effort. Throwing new tax dollars at problems is not an effective way to solve anything.”

This year, the House Republicans are leading an effort to increase transparency in state spending by requiring legislators to put their names on any item not specifically requested by a state agency. Rep. Ballentine is working with House Speaker Bobby Harrell on the legislation.
“With the budget as big as it is in this state, it is important to watch how every tax dollar is spent,” Rep.
Ballentine said. “The earmark reform we will pass this year is a key effort to reign in wasteful projects that do little to help the people of our state.”

Reps. Bedingfield and Shoopman, two freshman legislators from Greenville County, have immediately made an impact in promoting conservative fiscal policies.

Rep. Bedingfield said: “House Republicans have worked for years to implement a state spending limit – and it is a key agenda item again this year. We will keep being proactive on this issue until the Senate works in the best interests of South Carolina.”

Rep. Shoopman said: “The taxpayers associations around the state are important to keeping conservative issues in front of the General Assembly, as well as helping conservative Republicans in the General Assembly. We thank them for their hard work and urge them to stay involved in the process.”