A panel of the S.C. House that has spent five months discussing ways to pay for billions in state road repairs will wait until the end of January to unveil its draft proposal.
That is about the same time that Gov. Nikki Haley will announce her roads plan.
State Rep. Gary Simrill, a York Republican who heads the roads panel, said he has met twice with the governor’s staff on road issues and there is agreement on some aspects of a roads proposal.
Despite expectations the House panel would vote on a plan Monday, members spent 21/2 hours discussing ways to improve oversight of the state’s more than 41,000 miles of roads.
Before deciding on funding, Simrill said he wants to develop proposals to restructure the state Department of Transportation, expand accessibility to the state’s road-funding bank and give more smaller roads to counties.
“We need to fix the system first and fund it second,” he told the panel Monday. “Just pouring money at it won’t fix it.”
After their seventh meeting since September, some panel members are anxious to move forward.
“We’re going to have to deliver a baby before long” said state Rep. Bill Hixson, R-Aiken.
Funding options were not discussed at length Monday. However, raising South Carolina’s state fuel tax, the third lowest in the nation, is off the table because Haley has said she will veto a higher gas tax, many legislators say.
Simrill has suggested lowering the state gas tax but charging South Carolina’s 6 percent sales tax to wholesalers, a tax hike that would be passed on to motorists. He also has recommended asking S.C. voters to approve adding a statewide penny sales tax to pay for road repairs.