After months of serving on the House GOP Tax Study Committee , I’m pleased to see the caucus has deemed tax reform as the top issue for 2012 as we work towards creating a fairer tax code while removing a majority of sales-tax exemptions currently on the books.

From SC House GOP website , February 8th:

COLUMBIA – The South Carolina House Republican Caucus unveiled its 2012 Legislative Agenda today focusing on a fairer tax code, stronger Right to Work laws, healthier retirement system, ensuring the First in the South Primary, and pushing last year’s reforms through the S.C. Senate.

Last year, we unveiled a 20-point agenda that we expected to take 2 years to complete. Turns out, all we needed were 19 Wednesdays,” said House Majority Leader Kenny Bingham. “This year, we’re tackling a smaller number of bigger, systemic reforms critical to the future of our state.”

The top item on the Caucus agenda is tax reform. Rep. Tommy Stringer, R-Greer, chaired a Caucus tax study committee last fall and legislation from that committee will be introduced in the next few weeks.

“The committee worked on creating a fairer tax code. We examined each of the sales tax exemptions on their merit and looked across the tax code for ways we could be fairer to taxpayers and stimulate the economy,” Stringer said. “I look forward to introducing legislation that eliminates nearly two-thirds of the special interest sales tax exemptions while flattening income taxes, lowering the sales tax, reforming property taxes, and lowering burdensome taxes on small businesses.”

This week, the House will debate the Right to Work Act, filed last month by Chairman Bill Sandifer, which identifies more than a half-dozen places where our Right to Work Act could be strengthened to protect our workers, and protect individual liberty.

The next item on the agenda is shoring up the state retirement system, which threatens not only tens of thousands of state retirees and their families, but also threatens the wallets of millions of taxpayers.

“We made a promise to state employees and many of them understand we must make major changes to the system to keep it solvent,” said Rep. Jim Merrill, who chaired the Ways and Means subcommittee studying the retirement system. “We have a responsibility to the taxpayers to ensure the retirement system doesn’t bust the state budget for years to come. We are nearing completion of a plan that will fulfill our promises, and it will require sacrifice from everyone.”

The House GOP also wants to cement the First in the South Primary status for both parties – a position that gives our state a uniquely strong position in selecting the eventual Republican and Democrat nominee for President.

Finally, the House Republicans will push the Senate to approve the 14 items from our 2011 agenda in that body.
“If the Senate acts, we still have time to approve 14 items that we sent to the Senate last year,” said Assistant Majority Leader Bruce Bannister. “Included in these are important reforms for conservatives: a state spending limit, shortening the legislative session, reforming how bureaucratic regulations are created, creating a Department of Administration, and critical new pro-life protections. The Republican Caucus urges our colleagues in the Senate to break the logjams and pass these items quickly.”

House Speaker Bobby Harrell added, “This is the year we can deliver on the reforms that South Carolinians want – a more responsible government, true fiscal discipline and a highly competitive state. I have full confidence in this Caucus’s ability to take action on major issues, and by passing these reforms into law, we can give our citizens reason to have full confidence in their government.”

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