Columbia, SC — Every day, South Carolinians depend on our roads and highways to travel to work, to school, to the doctor’s office or to grandma’s house. We need roads to move the food we eat to market and from the market to our homes. We’d lose millions of dollars per year from visitors to our state if we couldn’t get them from Point A to Point B. Our modern economy would be virtually non-existent if we couldn’t move goods and services efficiently along the roads and over rivers and mountains.
But we’ve ignored the need to maintain, upgrade and expand our state’s roads and bridges for so long that we’ve reached a point where the health and safety of our families and our economy can be negatively impacted. Our bridges rank among the worst in the nation, and studies show South Carolina’s rural roads are the nation’s deadliest. South Carolina currently has a tab of $1 billion in needed road infrastructure repairs and upgrades. The time is now for a bold and meaningful effort to fix South Carolina’s roads.
Recently I joined a bipartisan group of senators in introducing a bond bill to raise $500 million for critical repairs and upgrades to our roads and bridges.
This is similar to a business making a long-term capital investment. Under our plan, the state would issue $500 million in general obligation bonds to provide immediate capital for tackling this problem. With interest rates at historic lows, it makes good business sense to act now to reduce the cost to cover the bonds.
The S.C. Constitution limits the state’s debt to 5 percent of our general fund revenues. Our current debt is less than half that, and issuing these bonds would still keep us significantly below the limit.
We applaud others who have put forth their own proposals to address this, but even the most ambitious of these efforts would provide approximately 10 percent of the money we need to fix our problems.
Our bill will create thousands of jobs and put companies and people to work planning, engineering and constructing the roads and bridges we need.
These are issues that affect us all, rural or urban, rich or poor, Democrat or Republican. Our job as state lawmakers is to develop solutions to meet our state’s needs. Right now, there’s nothing we need more than new jobs and safer, more modern roads and bridges. This bill can create both, and I hope you will urge your elected officials to join us in supporting it.
Sen. Nikki Setzler
Senate Democratic Leader