South Carolina Chamber of Commerce Competitiveness Agenda
2020 Competitiveness Agenda:
Our Competitiveness Agenda outlines our most pressing policy priorities for this year's legislative session. Year in and year out, our goal is to fight for policies that make South Carolina the best place in the nation to live, work, and do business.
Our 2020 Focus is on Comprehensive Tax Reform and Workforce Development.
Competitive Tax Code:
2020 is the year of tax reform. With a $1.8 billion budget surplus the General Assembly and Governor must make reforming our broken system a priority. South Carolina ranks 30th in overall business tax climate. Our tax code is antiquated, needlessly complex, and uncompetitive.
1. Lower the personal income tax rates for the State’s workforce:
- At 7%, South Carolina’s top marginal income tax rate is the highest in the Southeast and kicks in at only $14,860.
- Neighboring states Georgia and North Carolina both have lower, more competitive income tax rates.
- Six states lowered individual income tax in 2019.
2. Make the business license tax system fair and less complex
- 231 cites and 9 counties levy a business license tax, but have not adopted a standard system of collecting the tax.
- Small businesses operating in multiple cities are overly-burdened by the time and costs to comply.
- Dr. Russell Sobel, an economist at The Citadel, estimates that a business operating in 30 municipalities in the Charleston area will spend 120 hours, or 15 working days a year, complying with different renewal dates, applications, calculations and appeals.
- Municipalities calculate business license taxes using an antiquated method unique to South Carolina.
- While most states assess flat license fees, our state law allows cities to assess the tax based on a business’s gross receipts instead of net income.
3. Provide property tax relief to businesses and renters
- South Carolina has the 4th highest industrial property tax rates in the nation.
- Renters and businesses face a property tax burden 3 times more than primary homeowners.
Workforce For the Future:
South Carolina's business community needs a quality and effective workforce system to sustain and enhance business growth, and improve the quality of life for South Carolinians.
1.Finish the job on comprehensive education reform
- More than half of students in grades 3 through 8 failed to meet state reading and math standards in the 2017-18 school year.
- 1 in 4 High School students are not college or career ready
- Comprehensive reform should include:
- Strengthening Read to Succeed
- Support efforts to consolidate school districts
- Supporting strong intervention in underperforming schools
- Supporting Schools of Innovation
2.Increase affordable workforce housing closer to where jobs are located.
- South Carolina is a fast-growing state with an expanding economy, but rapid economic growth in some areas of the state has resulted in a lack of attainable housing for many of the state’s working citizens.
- Without a solution to make affordable workforce housing more available in high growth areas, we will continue to have challenges filling the workforce pipeline and attracting and retaining talent.
3.Link education and workforce data to identify and fix gaps in the workforce pipeline.
- A State Longitudinal Data System (SLDS) will link information on a student from K-12 through higher education and into the workforce – allowing businesses and policymakers to make sound, data-driven decisions that support the success of the SC education pipeline and the workforce.
- South Carolina is one of only two states in the southeast region that does not have a LDS (and one of 11 of 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico)
- An operational LDS can help determine outcome measures such as:
- Percent of high school students gainfully employed five- and 10-years post-graduation.
- Percent of students graduating from public high schools who enter postsecondary education without the need for remediation.
- Average earnings for post-secondary graduates, by degree level and major.
- Assist the state in alignment of college and certificate course offerings with the needs of the economy.
4.Expand broadband access in rural areas for education, healthcare and small business needs
- Internet access is a necessity for success in the today’s world – playing a key role in modern education, healthcare, agriculture and business.
- Almost 435,000 South Carolinians (nearly 10%) either don’t have access to internet in their home or have access to inadequate service, posing extreme challenges for individuals and industry in those areas, both rural and urban.