Statement of State Representative William Bailey regarding Governor’s visit to Myrtle Beach to announce $300 million in “Cares Recovery” funds dedicated to I-73
I have lived in Horry County all my life. To me it has always been a special place to live, work, and retire. Over the years we have worked to take care of our natural resources, like beach renourishment. However, we have failed to renourish our infrastructure system which is now in need of substantial repairs. Our our government has neglected these issues and provided no funding. Meanwhile our residents suffer.
Governor McMaster has scheduled a press conference in Myrtle Beach to announce that he would like to commit $300 million in “Cares Recovery” funds to I-73.
For thirty years politicians have been talking about I-73 and about how great it would be for tourism in Myrtle Beach. Over the years the once popular concept has limped along for a number of reasons. We have seen other states put this project aside. While a nice idea, things have changed since 1991 and priorities in Horry County have shifted.
For me, for the Governor to make this announcement at this time is one of the most irresponsible actions I have witnessed in my three years representing the amazing people of district 104. Here is my reasoning behind my statement.
1. It is fiscally irresponsible for the Governor to offer monies for any project during such an uncertain time we our state is still battling COVID-19. We currently have no idea what the future hospital and first responder needs will be. Health and safety should always be our first priority.
2. On multiple occasions, elected officials have been told there are no monies for our deteriorating and unsafe local roads in Horry County. These are roads that our residents use every day and desperately need to ensure their quality of life. These are the road that should take priority over I-73.
3. The Governor has been making public announcements in different areas of the state pledging over half a billion dollars in ARPA funds for projects unrelated to health and safety! The Governor has no appropriation powers under the South Carolina Constitution.
4. In South Carolina, only the General Assembly has budget responsibility and the power to designate monies for various projects throughout the state. It is unlikely the General Assembly will have the appetite to justify to their constituents the Governor’s proposal.
I recognize and appreciate that the tourism industry is extremely important to our economy and many people have worked long and hard for the I-73 project. However, it cannot come at the price of the quality of life for South Carolinians who have endured so many hardships as a result of the Covid -19 crisis. They need the ARPA monies and they need it now! I do hope one day the federal government develops a fiscally reasonable and functional interstate option that they are willing to fund.