By Paul Gable
Competing road funding plans are expected to be introduced in the S.C. General Assembly today.
The plans, authored by a S.C. House ad hoc committee and by Gov. Nikki Haley, respectively, each attempt to address fixes for South Carolina’s crumbling road infrastructure.
The main difference in the plans is funding mechanisms. Haley’s plan calls for a 10 cent rise in the state gas tax spread over three years, while calling for a 2 percent reduction in state income tax over 10 years.
The House plan calls for reducing the gas tax by 6 cents initially and tying the state gas tax rate to inflation while applying a 6 percent state sales tax to gas purchases at the wholesale level. The House plan also is expected to call for turning over approximately 50 percent of current state maintained roads to counties with a modest increase in C funds to county transportation committees as a carrot to get counties to agree.
At this point, neither plan appears to address the real problem – a new funding stream dedicated to repairing and maintaining state road infrastructure.
Haley’s overall plan of raising gas tax and reducing income tax will produce a net loss in state revenue unless the state experiences a significant increase in incomes over the next decade.
The House plan’s major funding solution appears to be dumping responsibility for a new revenue stream and road maintenance onto the backs of the counties without addressing the myriad restrictions, in current state law, for developing new local government revenue streams.
Meanwhile, S.C. Treasurer Curtis Loftis entered the discussion this week by urging South Carolinians to oppose a gas tax increase:
The special interests are at it again. They’ve designed a $42 billion wish list to “fix” South Carolina’s roads, but it is riddled with potholes and dead ends.
Bureaucrats and politicians always want our money, but the desired results rarely follow. In this plan, the tax is real – the rest is only a promise.
South Carolinians deserve a safe and reliable infrastructure because it is essential to our State’s economic growth and prosperity. But a gas tax increase will only fuel special interests, damage job creation, and cost South Carolinians more at the pump.
Let’s not build a $42 billion road to nowhere. Join me in urging your representatives and senators to say no new gas taxes.
Treasurer, State of South Carolina