WMBF Investigates: Hembree only local lawmaker to oppose gas tax increase

WMBF Investigates: Hembree only local lawmaker to oppose gas tax increase

COLUMBIA, SC (WMBF) - South Carolina's gas tax is set to go up 12 cents over the next six years starting July 1. The new law will go into effect after lawmakers in both the House and Senate overwhelmingly voted to override Gov. Henry McMaster's veto on Wednesday.

A WMBF News investigation into voting records on House Bill 3516 found Sen. Greg Hembree of Horry County was the only lawmaker who represents Horry, Marion, Florence, Darlington, Dillon or Marlboro Counties who ever voted against the plan to raise the gas tax.

"We're underfunding DOT. We've got to provide more funding. I favor a gas tax increase; I don't favor a tax increase when we have record budget revenues," Hembree said. I have a hard time philosophically saying we have more money than we need, but hey, let's get another half a billion dollars."

Voting records show Hembree opposed the Senate plan approved on April 27. It was ultimately shot down in the House, leading to the formation of a committee to come up with a compromise.

Hembree voted against the committee's plan on May 8. That bill went to the governor's desk where McMaster vetoed it.

Hembree voted May 10 not to override the veto.

"We had the opportunity to get income tax reform done. I was in the tax swap camp. Fix our roads is easy to say. Raise our taxes when we've got plenty of money doesn't fit on a bumper sticker. I'm hoping it works out well," he said. "I would have vetoed it if I were the governor. There was not a moral question, no right or wrong here. There were opinions. They voted on the plan they liked. I'm still taking taxpayers' money and saying we can spend it better than you can. I am a person, before I go into your pocket, I want to make absolutely sure it's the only option we've got and that's not the only option."

The seven other local senators, along with all 17 representatives in the House voted in favor of their chamber's bill, the committee report and the veto override. There was one exception, Sen. Kent Williams did not vote on the Senate bill, but did vote in favor of the committee report and veto override.

In late March, Hembree did present his own road funding plan that included a gas tax increase, but also contained a plan to consolidate income tax brackets.

Below is a list of all local lawmakers and how they voted on the gas tax bill:

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