COLUMBIA -- State Senate budget writers are looking to crack down on tax scofflaws and tap into the wallets of drivers, hunters, anglers and boat owners with a nearly $5 billion budget proposal they approved late Thursday night.
The Senate Finance Committee approved the spending plan and agreed to send it to the floor for debate.
Their general outline includes slicing nearly $26 million from health and human service agency budgets; $10 million from colleges; and $8.4 million from public school programs. But they left it up to the committee's staff to work out the details.
The finance committee agreed to a $12 increase in biennial registration fees for cars, a $5 fee increase for all boats and other watercraft and raising the price of fishing and hunting licenses by $2.
The car licensing fee would raise the every-two-year cost of keeping a car licensed to $36. The $22.5 million generated would be used mostly for the Highway Patrol trooper force. Those ranks have fallen from more than 1,000 a couple of years ago to around 850.
The fishing and hunting measure would raise about $1.8 million, and most would go to law enforcement agencies. Meanwhile, the license increase for watercraft would generate around $900,000.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Hugh Leatherman said the state Revenue Department promised to generate $50 million by cracking down on unpaid taxes if the state would put an extra $2.5 million into his budget.