Democrats speak out on first day of budget debate (Audio)

Democrats met just before Monday afternoon’s budget debate began, to preview their budget proposals, saying that the Republican supported budget plan has cuts in the wrong places. Union Democrat Mike Anthony says the proposed Republican cuts to education are a shame, where the base student cost would be reduced to the level where it was in 1995.
Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dan Cooper, a Republican, says Democrats are just throwing rocks.  And Cooper says a tax increase is unlikely and not on the table at this point, except for a possible tobacco tax. 
But Democratic leader Harry Ott says a decent cigarette tax would may a big difference.  The House Ways and Means Committee has already passed a 30 cent per pack tax increase, but some lawmakers want it much higher, more than one dollar, to keep up with the national average. South Carolina’s tobacco tax is now the lowest in the nation at seven cents a pack.

Democrats say they will propose changing Act 388 and re-doing the state’s revenue structure. Orangeburg Democrat Gilda Cobb-Hunter says her party should not be painted as the “taxation party.” She says Republicans have had tax increases, under other names.
(Ott-Cobb-Hunter on taxes  MP3  2:15)
Ott-Cobb-Hunter on taxes