South Carolina has the fourth-largest road network in the country, and perhaps has the biggest problem trying to maintain it.
The state is out of money, sending politicians into a tizzy as they try to find a way to finance a repair strategy for 40,000 miles of roads and bridges. A Senate subcommittee has suggested borrowing $1.3 billion and link the state gas tax—which is one of the lowest in the nation at just under 17 cents a gallon—to inflation. Lawmakers are calling it a motor fuel user fee. The House recently rejected a gas-tax increase, but is proposing the shifting of $100 million general-fund money to transportation coffers.
If the Senate does manage to draw up legislation supporting the committee recommendation, it is likely to see some resistance from the House. However, House Speaker Bobby Harrell is open to any ideas that might generate more money for road and bridge construction.
“Infrastructure is an incredibly important issue that needs to be dealt with,” Harrell told the Associated Press. “I’d be happy to see [the Senate] send any bill over that allows us to continue the conversation to try to get funding in place.”
Harrell, however, said he favors a current stream of funding over just a band-aid, like the House proposal. South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley prefers the $100 million shift from the general fund, and has included it in her budget.
“Instead of leveraging South Carolina’s credit rating, or raising the gas tax, let’s prioritize our spending and pay for infrastructure this year,” Haley spokesman Rob Godfrey said.