Some Upstate legislators see gas tax hike key to funding road work
Upstate business leaders rallied for road work Friday, but state lawmakers said they aren’t sure who’s listening in Columbia.
Members of 12 chambers of commerce that lobby together as the Upstate Chamber Coalition met at BMW Manufacturing Co. in Greer with legislators, transportation officials and local government leaders to discuss what one chamber official called a “crisis” in South Carolina’s road infrastructure.
Among the speakers was Ron Patton, the state Department of Transportation’s chief engineer for planning, location and design. He told the gathering that South Carolina is estimated to need $29.3 billion over 20 years to bring its highway system to a “good” condition.
Bill Ross of the South Carolina Alliance to Fix Our Roads said his coalition of companies, nonprofit organizations and chambers of commerce advocates a more realistic figure of $6 billion in additional road money over a decade.
DeMint-backed policy forum touts U.S. Sen. Tim Scott’s story
U.S. Sen. Tim Scott has the leadership style the Republican Party needs and a story that could inspire conservative education reforms in South Carolina, leaders of a think tank, launched this year by former U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint, said Friday.
Scott received that praise before delivering the keynote address at the Palmetto Policy Forum’s first policy summit. DeMint, a Greenville Republican and Tea Party hero, launched the group in February to tackle education, health care and other state policy issues.
That support bodes well for Scott, who faces his first statewide campaign in 2014 to keep the Senate seat. S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley, a Lexington Republican, appointed Scott to replace DeMint, who resigned to become president of the Heritage Foundation.
Republicans want to finish takeover of SC, capture counties, cities, school boards
South Carolina Republican Party Chairman Matt Moore shares some striking political data when visiting local party meetings: In a state where the GOP holds most statewide offices and congressional and state legislative seats, Democrats still hold the counties. Democrats also outnumber Republicans as sheriffs, coroners and auditors.
But that could change in 2014. Moore says his goal in next year's elections is to flip the local offices to Republican control, completing a transformation that started nearly 50 years ago when then-Democrat Sen. Strom Thurmond went on statewide television and announced he was switching to the GOP – in a state so heavily Democratic that it didn't even list party affiliations in its legislative manual.
The same transformation is occurring elsewhere in the South, in places where Republicans often didn't put up candidates because Democrats had such a lock on the electorate.
Focus on local races is the next logical step, Moore said, because most Republican statewide offices, the two U.S. Senate seats, six of its seven U.S. House members and 106 of the 170 seats in the Legislature appear safely in the GOP control.