Tax reform, education among chamber's priorities.

 
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As S.C. legislators returned to the Statehouse today to resume the 2019-2020 session, the S.C. Chamber of Commerce sent a reminder of the top issues the group wants addressed.

The S.C. Chamber of Commerce established tax reform, education, and workforce development among its 2020 competitiveness agenda priorities at a news conference at the Statehouse on Monday.

"For several years now, we've called on the General Assembly to pass tax reform," said Ted Pitts, chamber president and CEO, who said the state's tax code needs to be brought up to contemporary standards. The chamber said the state has the seventh-highest tax rate in the Southeast and the fourth-highest industrial property taxes in the nation.

Pitts said the state's $1.8 billion budget surplus also reflects the need for tax reform, since it's the current tax code that generated the extra revenue.

"If you're a legislator, and think you're going to get out of Columbia spending the $1.8 billion in extra money that you have in the budget, I remind you that this is an election year," Pitts said. "So we're going to call on folks around the state to encourage their legislators to reform our tax code and actually return dollars back to them that created this surplus."

Lou Kennedy, president and CEO of Nephron Pharmaceuticals Corp., echoed the call for change.

"Tax reform would improve our climate for business development," she said, calling tax reform " a true catalyst for building the economy of South Carolina."

Pitts said the current law allows for "work-arounds" that help larger companies such as Nephron, headquartered in West Columbia, or Spartanburg-based BMW to do business in the state, but the tax code shouldn't need such provisions and should benefit all businesses of all sizes.

"It's time to stop talking about tax reform and do something about it," Kennedy said.

The chamber also wants the state to streamline business license taxes. A business...

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