Ahead of the start of the 2022 legislative session, the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce today released its annual Competitiveness Agenda, with seven major areas of improvement the General Assembly should address to make the Palmetto State more business-friendly.
The Competitiveness Agenda, developed annually, consists of initiatives impacting job creators and businesses from industry sectors and regions across the state. Competitiveness Agenda items will help
South Carolina create a more competitive environment for jobs and businesses as the economy continues to recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The South Carolina Chamber board approved the 2022 Competitiveness Agenda after conducting extensive grassroots outreach to hear from business leaders across the state about what their top concerns are moving forward. Our annual membership survey received nearly 800 responses and showed that most businesses want the state to lower tax burdens, tackle liability reform, and address
As the leading voice for business in this state, the Chamber’s top priority this legislative session will be strengthening South Carolina’s business tax climate. While over a dozen other states seized on opportunities for tax relief last year, South Carolina did not. Now is the time to lower the individual income tax and reduce property tax burdens on businesses so that we can become more competitive with other states in the southeast.
Other priorities detailed below include addressing workforce challenges, improving South Carolina’s legal climate, passing criminal justice reforms, investing in infrastructure, supporting pro-business environmental policies, and adapting to new ways of doing business.
South Carolina Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Bob Morgan:
“As we enter this critical session, I am struck by the resilience our state has shown in the face of adversity over the past two years as we took on the challenges of a global pandemic. Thanks to those efforts, our state’s economy is robust and our businesses are open. Nevertheless, we have much more work to do to ensure South Carolina lives up to its potential and becomes the most business-friendly state in the nation.
Until we achieve substantial tax reform, our state will continue to languish in the bottom third of national rankings for business tax climate. We must also address workforce challenges, improve our legal climate, pass a hate crimes bill and continue to invest in our state’s aging infrastructure, among other issues.
Our vision is to make South Carolina’s economy the most vibrant in the United States, creating opportunity and prosperity for all. If our legislators take action on these recommendations this year, we
believe South Carolina can make substantial progress towards that goal.”
South Carolina Chamber of Commerce Chair Kim Wilkerson (South Carolina State President for Bank of America):
“I appreciate the efforts the General Assembly has made in recent years to make South Carolina a more business-friendly state. Thanks to the advocacy of the business community and the hard work of legislators, we have made meaningful improvements, including passage of the COVID liability protection bill for business, the advancement of hate crimes legislation, the expansion of rural broadband infrastructure, the funding of workforce development initiatives and the restoration of the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund. Now we have an opportunity to build on those successes, and the business community looks forward to working with the General Assembly again to make that happen.”
COMPETITIVENESS AGENDA 2022:
- Strengthen the Business Tax Climate
- Many states emerged from the pandemic with robust revenues and recognized opportunities for tax relief. 16 states enacted laws to reduce their individual income tax rates last year.
- South Carolina has the highest marginal income tax rate (7%) among all states in the South. The Tax Foundation ranks South Carolina 31st in the nation for overall business tax climate, 33rd for individual income tax and 36th for property tax.
- South Carolina businesses pay 68% of all property taxes collected, placing the state 11th highest in the nation by that metric.
- We support lowering the individual income tax and reduce property tax burdens on business.
- Address Workforce Challenges
- Many industry sectors are facing unprecedented workforce challenges leading to reduced hours of operation, slower operations, and shutdowns.
- South Carolina had 186,000 open jobs as of October 2021. The South region, which includes South Carolina, has the highest open jobs rate in the nation.
- South Carolina has its largest number of teacher vacancies since 2001.
- We support adopting policies to help address workforce gaps and fill critical need careers, including supporting workforce reskilling initiatives, improving teacher recruitment and retention, and expanding workforce housing attainability.
- Improve South Carolina’s Legal Climate
- The Institute for Legal Reform ranks South Carolina’s lawsuit climate 37th in the nation.
South Carolina’s legal costs are 2.5% of state GDP and $2,802 per household.
- South Carolina businesses are paying for many of these costs through high liability insurance premiums, as well as litigation costs.
- In South Carolina, a plaintiff can seek damages from one defendant even if other defendants are at the same level or more at fault.
- We support basing fault on a fair share of liability, not the deepest pocket.
- Support Criminal Justice Reforms
- South Carolina is now one of just two states in the nation without a hate crimes law.
Meanwhile, hate crimes in South Carolina have increased.
- We support finishing the job and passing a hate crimes law.
- We also support adopting policies to improve second-chance hiring of non-violent ex-offenders.
- Invest in Infrastructure
- South Carolina maintains the 4th largest state highway system in the nation and has the 10th fastest population growth rate.
- Over 400,000 South Carolinians do not have access to adequate broadband.
- We support investing more in roads, bridges, water and sewer, and broadband to meet basic needs.
- Support Pro-Business Environmental Policies
- South Carolina’s business community supports policies to achieve environmental protection without unnecessarily hindering economic development and business growth.
- We support ensuring that state agencies are responsive to business needs and must also maintain a pro-business regulatory environment.
- Adapt to New Ways of Doing Business
- South Carolina businesses have changed how they operate their businesses long-term in the pandemic environment.
- We support adopting policies that allow businesses to improve safe and remote business and consumer transactions.
About the SC Chamber: The South Carolina Chamber of Commerce is the State’s leading voice for business with a vision to make South Carolina’s economy the most vibrant in the United States, creating opportunity and prosperity for all. A statewide organization that fights for pro-job and business policies at the state and federal level, it strives to promote free enterprise; define and advocate for the business agenda; convene, connect, and educate businesses; and partner with key allies. Our member insights shape the policies we write and the agenda we promote at the State House. Learn more at www.scchamber.net