SC Considers Fees On New Residents As Population Continues To Skyrocket

Final yr, the US resident inhabitants elevated by 0.4%, or 1,256,003, to 333,287,557, in keeping with the Census Bureau’s inhabitants estimates. The expansion was felt most acutely within the South, the fastest-growing and the largest-gaining area, with totals rising 1.1%. Some states—like South Carolina—are more and more cautious of what meaning and are contemplating steps to handle it.

The Downside

South Carolina noticed a internet achieve of 1.7% in inhabitants over the previous yr, incomes it the third spot on the record of high 10 states by proportion development. That continued a sample for the Palmetto State—the inhabitants has elevated 10 out of the 11 years between 2010 and 2021, solely dipping between 2019 and 2020.

Whereas inhabitants will increase can imply more cash for native companies and bigger tax coffers, they’ll additionally imply dearer housing prices, congestion, and strains on current infrastructure.

The Proposed Resolution

State Senator Stephen Goldfinch (R-34) believes he has an answer—or at the very least a step in the appropriate path. Goldfinch has launched S. 208, a measure that would require new residents to pay extra charges to drive on the state’s roads.

Goldfinch’s invoice has been known as a “Yankee tax,” however he’s fast to level out that the proposal is a payment—not a tax. And the payment wouldn’t be mechanically carried out throughout the state. S. 208 requires particular person counties to conduct a referendum to find out whether or not to impose one-time charges for brand spanking new driver’s licenses and automobile registration.

Whereas the official fiscal impression is “undetermined,” the measure may increase as much as $500 million over the subsequent decade, primarily based on estimates suggesting greater than 1,000,000 additional residents are anticipated to pour into the Palmetto State. Beneath the phrases of S. 208, these funds raised can solely be earmarked for county infrastructure, public schooling, and inexperienced house conservation or preservation.

That is not an infinite sum of money for a state with a $35 billion annual finances. But it surely’s a begin.

Goldfinch says that long-time residents have already funded roads, bridges, and inexperienced areas that appeal to new residents. He means that new residents who wish to get pleasure from that high quality of life ought to pay for the privilege of with the ability to make the most of these issues “on day one” that current taxpayers have already funded.

The Particulars

Goldfinch believes the extra charges would start to even the enjoying subject for the brand new residents. I requested Goldfinch why he opted for a one-time payment tied to driving, as in comparison with, say, extra charges for brand spanking new building. It is easy, he says. It is simple for the buyer to calculate and, since voters approve it from county to county, people can have a say in what occurs in their very own backyards.

As at present drafted, the invoice requires referendums to query whether or not a $250 payment could be collected on new driver’s licenses issued to these shifting to the county from one other state. A separate referendum would query whether or not to gather an extra $250 for newly registered automobiles from out of the state.

The measure clearly targets new residents. Goldfinch would not shrink back from that facet. However, he says, there is a rational foundation for asking these new residents to play catch-up with those that have already paid into the system.

These new residents, I famous, may embody navy personnel. South Carolina is residence to seven navy bases, together with Fort Jackson, U.S. Navy Hospital Beaufort, Naval Weapons Station Charleston, Shaw Air Drive Base, Joint Base Charleston, Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, and Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island. Goldfinch mentioned that he was actively engaged on an exemption for active-duty navy personnel.

I requested about different potential exemptions, together with one for seniors. Goldfinch says an exemption for seniors is not within the playing cards since older residents are a main driver of inhabitants development within the state.


Goldfinch would not appear frightened that extra charges may decelerate development within the state—nor does he counsel that the measure is a panacea.

Coping with change and growth is a matter that counties and states battle with throughout the nation. How do you pay for extra colleges, roads, and infrastructure? And who ought to bear that burden? I do not know if this payment routine is the reply. However Goldfinch is assured that this ought to be a query finest left to these impacted—the voters.


The South Carolina Senate Finance Committee has issued a report calling the measure “Favorable.” It now heads to the Senate ground.

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