The new Speaker of the South Carolina House, Rep. Jay Lucas of Hartsville, said in Greenville today that solving the state's road-funding problem during the legislative session that begins Jan. 13 will be "difficult."
To bring South Carolina's deteriorating road network up to par, House members will have to craft a plan that placates Gov. Nikki Haley, the Senate, and local governments, which may be asked to take over some state roads, Lucas told The Greenville News following a noon talk at the Poinsett Club.
He said House leaders are talking with state transportation officials about exactly how much money will be needed but "we're not confident of the figures yet."
Lucas also said House members want to streamline road-funding programs and create a "system that they trust before they would put money in it."
"If we can start the conversation and get the ball moving this year, I will be extremely happy," the Republican said. "Will we solve it this year? Again, an issue that requires this much consensus, it will be difficult."
When lawmakers do come up with a plan, it will include a "revenue component," unspecified so far, Lucas said.
"I firmly believe if we do nothing we're just managing the decline and decay of the road system," he said. "If we put a little money in, we're still managing the decline and decay of the current road system."
Lucas was elected Speaker this past fall after former Speaker Bobby Harrell of Charleston pled guilty to campaign finance violations and resigned.
He was in town keeping a tradition:
The First Monday in Greenville club has hosted the Speaker just before the start of each General Assembly session for 20 years, said Deb Sofield, club chair.