Senator expects demand for tax increases, Haley opposes concept

Governor-Elect Nikki Haley's office doesn't think a tax increase is an option.

PHOENIX (AP, WACH) -- Legislators from around the country say unrealistic public expectations are one of the challenges they face as states' budget troubles continue.

South Carolina Senate Finance Committee Chairman Hugh Leatherman says the public's patience with budget cuts will wear thin and could even turn in a surprising direction.

If continued cuts pack classrooms with students and block admissions to nursing homes, "I'm predicting ... that the public will be lined up to my door demanding that we raise taxes," said Leatherman.

But Governor-Elect Nikki Haley's office doesn't think that's the best option.

The last thing we can afford to do in a recession is raise taxes " that TMs just not an option," explains Haley spokesman Rob Godfrey. "As the Governor-Elect has been very honest about, this is going to be a painful budget year. But she has also made it very clear that in this tough time there is a real opportunity to make South Carolina a smarter, stronger state, and she will work with the General Assembly to make that happen.

Leatherman is attending a conference on state legislatures in Phoenix with fellow lawmakers. They said Wednesday that it's not clear if the public will go along with further service cuts in the face of years of projected gaps in state budgets.

Former Oregon Senate Majority Leader Richard Devlin says service cutbacks are "the new economic reality" but it could take time for the public to accept that.

Utah state Rep. Ron Bigelow says there are years of budget cleanup work to do but only a short "window of opportunity" for lawmakers to trim more spending and consider tax increases before the public balks.

What do you think about Sen. Leatherman's comments about the public wanting tax increases? Vote in the poll below and leave a comment.

Check back on your WACH Fox News to see if we share what you have to say in our broadcast.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)