Marriage tax break a joke

Contemplating a divorce? It might be wise to wait until you can collect the $27 state lawmakers want to give you to stay married.

Under a bill ap-proved in the House last week, married couples would save an average of $27 a year on their state income taxes. The measure would cut the bottom tax rate for married couples filing jointly by 2010 through three years of cuts. The actual tax break would vary depending on a couple's earnings.

"We think marriage is a bedrock institution in our society. Any time we can affirm our support, we'll do that," said House Majority Leader Jim Merrill, R-Daniel Island. "We want to help married couples in any way possible."

Well, how about ensuring that their children can get a decent education in the state's public schools? In an economic downturn when school districts are facing a drop of $60 million in state funding over the next two years, the House has approved a measure that would reduce state revenues by $15.6 million a year once the full cut is phased in.

This bill is the worst kind of election-year pandering, a bald-faced effort to buy votes by declaring one's reverence for the institution of marriage. What a joke.

Anyone who thinks $27 a year buys marital bliss hasn't made the trip down the aisle. Save that annual $15.6 million and spend it where it will do some real good.