Gov. Nikki Haley said the fact that South Carolina's gas tax is among the lowest in the country is not a good enough reason to increase it.

"I've never understood the logic of raising it just because we're the lowest," she said during an appearance Tuesday in front of the Rotary Club of Charleston.

South Carolina has the 47th lowest gas tax in the nation, at about 16 cents per gallon, the motorist support group AAA Carolinas reported.

Alaska was identified for having the lowest at about 8 cents a gallon, while New York State was the highest at 50 cents, the group said.

Haley's comments came as some members of the Legislature are pushing to increase the pump tax as a means of ensuring a continuing pot of money for road maintenance. The gas tax hasn't been increased since 1987, when the pump price was less than a dollar per gallon.

Haley pointed to the Statehouse effort she signed last year that commits $1 billion over the next 10 years for road repairs. That comes as some say the needs are closer to $29 billion for road maintenance.

Haley went on to say that the Legislature would be quick to raise the tax if it could, but that "if we took the easy out, we would be in a terrible place," she said.

There are still ways to get money for road improvements without raising the tax, she said.

"I'm not there," she said of changing her mind on a tax increase.

Her announced Democratic opponent, state Sen. Vincent Sheheen of Camden, also is against raising the gas tax. His position statements advocates bonds, a "fix it first" approach to maintenance, and making the state Department of Transportation more accountable.

Haley's comments came toward the end of a lunchtime stump speech delivered to the group meeting at The Citadel.

Reach Schuyler Kropf at 937-5551