House members plan to spend nearly $400 million to repair some of the state’s crumbling roads and bridges as part of the $7.5 billion budget proposal they are considering this week.
However, the House plan clashes with a Senate-passed proposal and would force the General Assembly to revisit the almost $30 billion road-repair issue next year, including possibly raising the state’s gas tax.
The House plans to spend $366 million — a mix of one-time and recurring general-fund money — on road repairs, according to state Rep. Gary Simrill, R-York.
The House plans to send money to counties and the Transportation Department, with some of the money — likely $50 million — to be bonded through the S.C. Transportation Infrastructure Bank. In addition to new money for roads, $49 million would go to pay for flood repairs that the state’s roads agency made during the October storm, Simrill said.
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The House plan would force the General Assembly to try next year to come up with a long-term solution to fix the crumbling roads, said Simrill, who sponsored a proposal to increase the gas tax that the House passed last year.
Gov. Nikki Haley urged House members last week to agree with the Senate plan. But Simrill criticized the Senate proposal for spending money through state law – not as part of the formal budget process.
The House plans to divide $185 million among counties, using a formula that takes into account a county’s size, population and miles of rural roads. Counties would be required to spend the money to resurface roads that are not eligible for federal money.
House members Monday approved transferring $100 million collected in fines and fees from the Department of Motor Vehicles to the S.C. Department of Transportation. Members intend to pay to operate Motor Vehicles through the general-fund budget, instead of the agency raising its own money.
Simrill said he anticipates the House adopting changes to the structure of the Transportation Department and Infrastructure bank, similar to the Senate proposal.
The Senate plan would enable the governor to appoint Transportation Department commissioners who would select a secretary to lead that agency. The Transportation Department would also approve Infrastructure Bank projects, criticized as pork-barrel politics.
After considering the budget this week, House members will take an unpaid break for two weeks, returning to consider the Senate-passed road-repair proposal.
There is no urgency to take up the Senate plan sooner, Simrill said, noting the state budget does not take effect until July 1. He added lawmakers are awaiting a Legislative Audit Council report on Transportation Department operations so they can incorporate any changes suggested in that review.
The S.C. House plans to spend $366 million more to fix some crumbling S.C. roads and bridges.
$185 million would be divided among counties to pay to resurface roads not eligible for federal money
$181 million would go to the state Transportation Department, including $100 million in fines and fees collected by the Department of Motor vehicles, $65.7 million from the car sales tax and some of the money — likely $50 million — to be bonded through the S.C. Transportation Infrastructure Bank