Senator criticizes gun tax holiday
COLUMBIA -- Lawmakers must decide whether to continue to give tax breaks on guns, but at least one Democratic senator says encouraging people to buy guns in a poor state with a lot of needs is exactly the reason people make fun of South Carolina.
Sen. Joel Lourie, D-Columbia, took issue with the Senate taking a vote to keep a sales-tax-free weekend for gun purchases after Thanksgiving when the state is laying off teachers and seeing a surge in violence.
Lourie said he realizes eliminating a sales tax break for guns may hurt some legislators' NRA ratings, but the timing of a tax-free weekend for arms doesn't make sense to him. The state loses $250,000 in tax collections on the tax-free weekend, which was created several years ago.
The state is not expected to make any significant changes to the annual back-to-school tax-free shopping weekend.
"We talk about the things that people like to poke fun at South Carolina about" and this is one of those reasons, Lourie said.
Lourie said people ask him: " 'Have y'all lost your mind? Why would we want to give people a tax break just to buy guns?' Crime's going up. What are we doing? We're providing tax breaks for people to buy guns."
Lourie said he can think of 100 other items the state could give tax breaks on, including medical goods.
The Senate did not debate the merits of the tax breaks on guns and no supporters spoke up. Instead, the Senate argued over the rules that allow members to bring the issue up for debate and inclusion in the $6 billion budget.
Whether the state will continue its tax-free weekend on guns is still up in the air. A final decision probably won't come until after the budget is finalized. Legislators will continue budget talks next week.
Likewise, the state must decide whether to increase the incentives it gives to production companies to encourage movies and TV shows, specifically "Army Wives," to be filmed in South Carolina.
The Senate voted down the tax-free gun weekend and the increased film incentives Thursday, but supporters will take another shot at including those provisions in the budget.