There is gas tax outrage over raising taxes on the right. And there is outrage over the specter of spending cuts on the left. This “same ol’ same ol’” response to Gov. Nikki Haley’s plan to trade a gas tax increase for an income tax cut has missed the big point. And it leaves most South Carolinians with little faith that we’ll ever overcome our challenges.

In any corner of our state you’ll find people united by a shared desire: They want the opportunity for a good job to provide themselves and their children with a better future.

How do we attract and grow these jobs? For a long time, we’ve relied on our status as a right-to-work state. But as more states like Michigan — home of the United Auto Workers — discover this secret, we’re losing that competitive advantage. In fact, South Carolina has fallen to 31st on the Rich States, Poor States Economic Competitiveness Index. (Our neighbors, North Carolina and Georgia, are sixth and ninth respectively.)

So how do we stay in the game as a state and still fund critical priorities like our crumbling roads? The single greatest thing we could do to ensure a bright outlook for South Carolina’s future is comprehensive tax reform.

Key would be eliminating the personal income tax and dramatically cutting the number of special-interest loopholes and exemptions in exchange for lowering rates across the board. Would this mean draconian cuts to education, public safety and more? Hardly. Jobs (and tax revenue) are flooding to states like Texas, Tennessee and Florida that have no personal income tax. That’s not a coincidence.

Let’s stop playing around the edges. Bold ideas and strategic, long-term thinking are the only things that will carry the day — the rest is just noise. It’s time for our leaders to convince us that they have a big-picture vision worthy to inspire us to work together for our shared future.

Ellen Weaver

President and CEO

Palmetto Policy Forum

Lincoln Street