by John Steinberger | June 20, 2018 10:20 pm
Challenger John Warren went after Governor McMaster for being delinquent on property tax payments 31 times during their debate Wednesday at the Newberry Opera House. The debate was televised on South Carolina ETV. McMaster and his wife Peggy own a number of rental properties near the University of South Carolina which cater to students, and the (Columbia) Free Times has documented a number of issues they have had with Columbia building code statutes, including too many occupants per unit. The report also documents fines the McMasters paid to the Richland County Treasurer’s office for delinquent property tax payments.
A frequent theme during the debate was McMaster touting his experience in state government and Warren heralding his status as a conservative outsider who will shake things up. McMaster said of Warren, “Being Governor is no time for a learning curve. You need to know what the limitations (of the office) are.” Warren responded by noting that President Donald Trump had no government experience before becoming President and has done exceptional things in office. He also cited his real-world experience as a decorated Marine combat veteran and the founder of a successful small business, Lima One Capital, which lends money to real estate investors.
The candidates also clashed over how to deal with the leaders in the General Assembly, particularly Senate President Hugh Leatherman. McMaster said that the Governor can’t bully legislators and get anything done. Warren criticized McMaster for endorsing Leatherman in his 2016 primary against conservative challenger Richard Skipper. He said, “You can’t work with Hugh Leatherman (and get anything done).” Warren vowed to recruit and support challengers to Leatherman and other “bad apples” in the General Assembly in 2020. All 124 Representatives and 46 Senators will be on the ballot in two years.
When asked about state tax policy, McMaster said he wants retired military and first responders to pay no state income tax on their pension earnings. Warren wants to cut income tax and sales tax rates cut in half by removing sales tax exemptions. He stated that sales taxes are only paid on 31% of all goods sold in South Carolina and pointed to the competitive advantage Florida and Tennessee have by not collecting a state income tax.
Moderators Charles Bierbauer from ETV and Andy Shain from the (Charleston) Post and Courier asked a lot of questions of more concern to Democrats, dealing with issues like man-made global warming, expanding Medicaid and taking down monuments honoring Confederate veterans. McMaster and Warren were in agreement on those issues, taking the standard conservative positions.
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