Some groups push for higher SC gas tax

As the price of gas inches upward in South Carolina, some people around the state say the gasoline tax is too low.

The last time South Carolina raised its gas tax was in 1987 and compared to other states, like California's 48-cent gas tax, South Carolina's tax of 16 cents per gallon sounds cheap.

But it's still hard to convince some drivers the state needs a higher tax.

"I think the roads are good enough now," said Todd Baker of Myrtle Beach, as he filled his truck's gas tank Thursday. "I don't think we need to raise taxes any more than what we've got."

"Gas is already expensive enough," said Ashley Brown of Surfside Beach. "If they're going to do taxes, it should be somewhere else, not with gas."

Still, proposals to raise the gas tax has powerful supporters, including former SC Department of Transportation commission chairman Danny Isaac of Myrtle Beach, who says the state's infrastructure is collapsing.

"In essence, if you take our $1.2 billion a year budget in SCDOT, it's half of what it needs to be," Isaac said.

Isaac is co-owner of A & I Fire and Water Restoration, which has a fleet of 65 vehicles, most of them trucks.

A gas tax hike would hit his business harder than most, but Isaac still says it's necessary, because having those trucks drive bad roads ends up costing even more.

And raising the gas tax, he says, isn't the only answer.

"We have had so many of our tax dollars that have been diverted into the (state's) general fund. I personally believe that the taxes that we're presently paying on batteries, tires, windshield wipers, cars, all should be put into our infrastructure," he said.

But S

outh Carolina Governor

Nikki Haley has come out against a gas tax increase, and Isaac says he doubts the state has the appetite right now for any kind of higher taxes.

"I think once again we're just going to kick the can down the road."

The South Carolina Alliance to Fix our Roads- a non-profit group that's pushing for more transportation funding - is speaking to various groups around the state, including the SC Mayors Association.

Leaders of the group say the state will need nearly $50 billion for road construction and repairs over the next 20 years, and a higher gas tax is badly needed.