Mark Clark Back in Business

After months on the brink of uncertainty, things are looking up for the Mark Clark Expressway

On Tuesday morning, the State Transportation Infrastructure Bank (STIB) voted 5-2 to rescind their June vote to end the project. The vote gives Charleston County, the STIB and the South Carolina Department of Transportation 45 days to amend the Intergovernmental Agreement and hammer out the financial details. If negotiations are successful, the three parties will be able to move the much-needed piece of infrastructure forward.

Later Tuesday evening, Charleston County Council voted 6-2 to enter negotiation with the STIB and the SCDOT to amend the Intergovernmental Agreement. County Council appointed Councilmen Brantley Moody and Elliott Summey to negotiate on behalf of the county. There are still hurdles to overcome before we see dirt moving, but this is a significant step in the right direction from where we were just a few months ago.

Governor McMaster is owed a huge thank you by the Lowcountry for the turnaround of this critical project. His leadership brought all of the parties back to the table to try and find a solution. The Governor attended the STIB meeting on Tuesday as the vote was happening. His two appointees, Chairman John White and Ernest Duncan, were the swing votes to get the project moving again. So, thank you Governor McMaster for your leadership. If you have a few minutes today or next week, give his office a call to thank him for his leadership on the Mark Clark Expressway. His office number is 803.734.2100.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the behind-the-scenes work Charleston County was doing to keep this project alive. After the June vote, they could’ve walked away or pursued legal action, but they remained in contact with the Governor and his staff to keep working towards a solution. Finally, a huge shout out to Representative Leon Stavrinakis and Senator Sandy Senn. They continually beat the drum for the merit and need for a completed Mark Clark Expressway to Governor, the STIB and legislative leaders. This was truly a team effort.

In other news, the House and Senate returned to Columbia this week to finish a few details of the 2018 Legislative Session and take up Gubernatorial vetoes to the 2018-2019 State Budget. Upon their return, the business community got two big wins.

First, you may recall that an Economic Development Package (S.1043) which included language from High Impact Incentives (S.404) was vetoed by the Governor after session ended in May. On Tuesday afternoon, the Senate overrode the Governor’s veto by a vote of 31-8 and the House followed suit on Wednesday by a vote of 112-4. Thank you to the Lowcountry delegation for voting to override the Governor’s veto!

Finally, the Senate’s first order of business when they returned this week was to adopt a Tax Conformity bill that allows the South Carolina Department of Revenue to link the state tax code with the federal tax code. The new federal tax bill that passed earlier this year eliminated personal exemptions. The Tax Conformity Bill added deductions for business and families so taxes wouldn’t rise. The Governor signed the bill into law on Wednesday afternoon.

Here’s what’s in the bill:

For individuals:

  • The bill adds a $4,110 state tax deduction for dependents, starting with the current tax year. It adds an additional $4,110 deduction for children under six years old, bringing the tax deduction to $8,220 total. While this isn’t a total solution for working parents, we believe this will help defray more of the cost for childcare — which is a major barrier to the workforce for some families
  • Increases standard deductions to mirror federal law
  • Indexes state tax brackets to inflation beginning in 2019

For businesses, there were several major items that are better termed “non-conformity”:

  • The bill preserves South Carolina’s more generous pass-through income tax. In this case, state income taxes would have gone up if we had conformed with the federal tax code
  • The same “non-conformity” applies to deductions for interest expenses and foreign taxes paid — a major item for global businesses. Businesses won’t have to worry about federal caps for interest expenses and foreign taxes when preparing their state income taxes

Have a great weekend!

George Ramsey,
CMCC Business Lobbyist

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