Economic development is an extremely important issue for Beaufort County, and its direct impact on Hilton Head Island is of particular concern. We will have to lobby diligently in Columbia and throughout the state regarding the importance of the Jasper Port and fight to make that vision a reality.
We have to create an atmosphere in South Carolina that is more business-friendly. We have to seriously consider reforming our tax code -- something along the lines of flatter and fairer, alleviating the burden on small businesses.
The legislature continues to believe that it can decide what the next best industry will be, and then use taxpayer dollars to grow and foster the economy. This process and way of thinking is flawed.
In its most basic terms, government-driven economics consists of forcing some people -- taxpayers -- to give money to other people -- select businesses eligible for tax credits, subsidies and grants awarded by public officials and state agencies. The promise is that economic development will benefit everyone. The reality is that it only benefits the chosen few.
Even when state-driven economic plans actually create new jobs, they never do so as efficiently as the free market. In effect, every job created by the government is a job-plus-one that could have been created by private industry. For this reason, the only "good" economic development plans ever devised are those that reduce government interference and lower taxes. In South Carolina, two of the best things the General Assembly could do to jumpstart the economy would be to:
Eliminate the Corporate Income Tax. This is an inefficient tax that does not generate much revenue, but creates significant administrative hassles for businesses. According to the Tax Foundation, South Carolina ranks in the bottom half of states, in terms of overall business climate. Eliminating the state's 5 percent corporate income tax would elevate our ranking to 11th.
Eliminate Preferential Tax Credits. Instead of trying to pick winners and losers, the state should lower the income tax rate for everyone. This is fairer and will simplify the tax code, as well as generate more tax revenue in the long-run.