S.C. House leaders urged the state Senate Tuesday to pass an increase to the state’s gas tax to pay for repairs to the state’s crumbling roads.
"Pass the damn bill," said S.C. House Speaker Jay Lucas, R-Darlington, in a press conference, where he was joined by House Republicans and Democrats.
Lucas was referring to a plane that flew over last weekend’s RBC Heritage golf tournament in Hilton head, towing a sign that read “Fix the damn roads,” paid for by the pro-gas-tax increase S.C. Alliance to Fix Our Roads.
After a week off, S.C. senators return to session in Columbia at 2 p.m. Tuesday. A proposal to raise the S.C. gas tax to fix the state’s crumbling roads is in a priority spot for Senate debate.
This is the third year that a proposal to increase the state’s 16.75-cent-a-gallon gas tax has stalled in the S.C. Senate.
House leaders said Tuesday they have had enough.
“We will refuse to play petty politics over policy as the Senate did last year,” Lucas said. “We refuse to mislead the people of South Carolina with a seemingly easy solution” — borrowing money — “that will do nothing for our state roads.”
Earlier this year, the Senate’s budget panel changed a House-passed gas-tax proposal, stripping proposed changes to the structure of the S.C. Department of Transportation and increasing driving fees to raise even more money for roads than the House plan.
However, some GOP senators want an offsetting income-tax cut to be included in the plan before they will approve any gas-tax increase.
S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster, R-Richland, has said he will veto a gas-tax increase. Instead, he urged lawmakers to change a borrowing plan, intended to repair state-owned buildings, to use that money to pay for road repairs.
That proposal has been panned by most legislators.