Searching for South Carolina Road Funding

By Paul Gable

The message seems to have finally gotten through to Columbia that South Carolina roads are in generally poor condition.

However, how to fix the problem, or more specifically how to fund the fix, elicits differing solutions but no consensus to date.

Gov. Nikki Haley has promised to unveil her “magic” road maintenance funding plan in January. So far, she has promised to not raise the gas tax and to veto any legislation doing so.

Both houses of the General Assembly seem to have members coalescing around raising the gas tax even though raising taxes in South Carolina is generally verboten.

Others in the General Assembly are for putting a referendum before the voters in 2016 asking for another penny to be added to state sales tax for road maintenance.

At least one state legislator is advocating an increase in sales tax and doing away with the state gas tax altogether while several others are irresponsible enough to say they will only support a revenue increase if they get funding for new roads in their area.

(The state can’t afford to maintain the roads it has but these fools want the limited money available to pay for new road projects rather than attempt to fix the problems with existing roads.)

State sales tax was originally passed and raised several times to fund education. Last week, the S.C. Supreme Court ruled the state is not doing its job of providing each public school student in the state with the opportunity to obtain a minimally adequate education. Specifically, funding the poor, rural school districts in the state is insufficient.

Some sentiment exists in Columbia for dumping the cost of maintenance of current state roads on the counties.

Unfunded or partially funded state mandates are becoming a tradition in South Carolina with counties already expected to chip in with money for various state agencies operating in the respective counties.

The General Assembly has done a particularly poor job of adequately funding its local government fund, which is supposed to at least help the local funding, with no expected relief in sight.

The General Assembly has been unwilling, unable or both in finding funding for road maintenance to date. It will be interesting to see if the will exists in Columbia to solve the problem or if we will be treated to more ‘hot air’ from legislators who generally do a very poor job of governing this state.

Below is a comment from Tom Stickler:

I-73 should never be built, regardless of the funding source. The only jobs it could create would be during the construction phase, but more worthy infrastructure projects can create similar jobs for a more useful result.

There was an ad on CBS Sunday Morning, 16 November 2014 edition, promoting I-73 with the usual “29,000 jobs” claim. This spot was followed by another promoting the MBACC.

This I-73 zombie shambles on, seeking to eat what brains we have left


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