Recently, Gov. Nikki Haley made the bold claim that “we are not going to do what Kansas did” in the wake of my old state’s growing budget crisis. I’m sorry to tell Gov. Haley: It’s too late for that.
Having spent the past three years living and working in Kansas, I find it unsettling to see how similar Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback’s radical priorities on taxes, schools and infrastructure are to those of Gov. Haley.
Claiming to be a champion of education while making cuts to public schools and higher education? Haley and Brownback are lockstep.
Heck, Haley even tried to copy Brownback when it came to abolishing the state Arts Commission, a plan that thankfully failed here in South Carolina.
And now Gov. Haley is following Sam Brownback’s disastrous tax policy, offering what she calls a road plan that really is just a plan to raise taxes on middle-class and working South Carolinians in the form of consumption taxes so she can drastically cut income taxes for the very rich.
I’m not clairvoyant, but I can tell you what the future holds for South Carolina if Gov. Haley gets her misguided way.
First, promised revenue streams for roads and bridges will never go to their intended use. Instead, growing deficits will require money to be diverted to other, more immediate needs. That gas tax Gov. Haley has become so fond of to pay for roads and bridges will just fill the hole left by her tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires.
That’s the bait-and-switch Gov. Brownback pulled, taking more than $1 billion of sales tax revenues meant for roads to plug budget holes created by his radical tax plan.
At the same time, taxes on working families are going up, and many Kansas schools are being forced to close their doors early because they don’t have the funds needed to stay open for the entire school year. School districts have announced deep teacher layoffs, and some rural schools are even closing their doors permanently.
So that’s the future for South Carolina: More taxes for working families, no investment in roads, deeper cuts to education and a state no family will find attractive.
Over the past two months, I’ve been told repeatedly: “You’re not in Kansas anymore.” But I gotta say, every time I hear Gov. Haley speak, it sure feels like I never left Oz.
Executive Director, S.C. Democratic Party