South Carolina Governor vetoes gas tax increase, override by legislators likely

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WJBF) – South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster followed through on his promise and vetoed legislation Tuesday night that would have raised the state’s gas tax for the first time in 30 years. However, the Tuesday’s House vote that sent the measure to the Governor includes enough votes to override the veto.

McMaster explained his decision in a tweet:

Earlier Tuesday, the House easily approved a compromise that raises the tax by 12 cents over six years, to 28.75 cents per gallon, but provides a way for South Carolina drivers to get the money back during the phase-in.

According to the Associated Press, the compromise, worked out last Friday by a House-Senate panel, would eventually raise an additional $630 million annually for roadwork, once the rebate for South Carolinians ends, and reduce revenue to the state’s general fund by a projected $105 million yearly.

The Senate supported the compromise by a veto-proof 32-12 supermajority late Monday, followed by the House’s veto-proof vote Tuesday.

Beyond increasing the gas tax, the compromise would also increase the state sales tax cap on vehicles from $300 to $500 and the biennial license registration fee by $16. It would create new fees for hybrid and electric vehicles, out-of-state truckers and drivers moving to South Carolina.

The tax-cut provisions were essential to gaining supermajority support in the Senate. They would provide breaks to manufacturers, college students, low-wage workers and married couples filing jointly.

Drivers could recoup the extra money paid at the pump by itemizing gas fill-ups and vehicle maintenance costs in their income tax returns. The cumulative cap would rise from $40 million the first year to $114 million in year six, then sunset. Legislators would have to pass another law to continue it.

The House will take up the Governor’s veto first and could start the process as early as Wednesday.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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