South Carolina group backs fuel tax increase

| Tuesday, January 14, 2003

Truckers may face higher diesel taxes in South Carolina if a business group is able to push a highway construction and repair plan through the state’s Legislature.

The Business Alliance for Transportation said it submitted a plan Jan. 9 to Republican Gov.-elect Mark Sanford and the South Carolina General Assembly to increase drivers’ taxes and fees to help the state generate $325 million a year for highway construction and repair. The amount is far short of the $1.9 billion a year in new money transportation officials say they need to keep roads safe and relieve congestion.

The group wants truckers to chip in 5 cents more per gallon on diesel, while other motorists would add 8 cents per gallon for gasoline. Drivers currently pay 16 cents per gallon state tax on diesel and gasoline.

Under the proposal, a new $300 flat “safety fee” also would be charged on a new-vehicle purchase and a $75 fee would be charged on a used-vehicle purchase. In addition, two-year registration fees would increase from $24 to $35, and five-year driver’s license fees would double to $25.

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