Use of General Fund revenues for roads may be a practical short-term necessity given the dire condition of state highways and bridges, but the Legislature should not embrace its use as a regular source of DOT funding, despite the insistence of Gov. Nikki Haley.
A one-time allocation allows for more opportunity to raise the gas tax in the future, recognizing that it functions as a user fee nearly one-third of which is paid by out-of-state drivers. At 16.5-cents per gallon, the state gas tax is one of the lowest in the nation, and hasn’t been increased since 1987.…
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But the House has yet to approve the governance reforms supported by the Senate. Those include giving Gov. Haley appointment authority over the state highway commission, and providing commission oversight for the State Infrastructure Bank (SIB).
Each measure would provide for a higher level of accountability, essential to ensure that highway funds are used for priority projects. It is particularly needed for the SIB, which originally was created as a financing instrument for major highway projects, but has become a shadow highway commission that virtually operates on its own authority.
At present, the majority of SIB members are appointed by the speaker of the House and the president pro tempore of the Senate. Those legislative leaders should not have that level of influence over a statewide transportation board.
Without governance reforms, there is inadequate assurance that highway funding will be put to best use. The House still has work to do.
10-point grade scale
South Carolina State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman announced last week that South Carolina is expected to shift from a 7-point grading scale to a 10-point scale beginning with the 2016-17 school year.
This is good news for South Carolina high school students.
Since the 2000-2001 school year, South Carolina students have been at a disadvantage on a national scale with other states.
A grade of 92 in a class in South Carolina would earn you a solid B, but that same 92 would be an A in Connecticut, North Carolina, Georgia and a host of other states.
Since GPAs are assigned based on those letter grades, students in South Carolina were at a disadvantage when it came to scholarship criteria when judged against students from other states, particularly when applying to out-of-state colleges.
The Governors Highway Safety Association ranks South Carolina with the sixth-highest rate of pedestrian deaths among the states: 2.21 deaths per 100,000 population in 2015. New Mexico is highest at 3.55 with Florida second at 2.96.
Nationwide, the GHSA estimates a stunning 10 percent increase in the number of persons on foot killed in traffic crashes in 2015 over 2014.
The growing use of cellphones distracting drivers and walkers may be partially to blame, states a GHSA report. Warmer weather and shorter winters along with a greater awareness of health benefits may also be encouraging people to walk more.
Officials emphasize that other key factors in pedestrian collisions and deaths continue to be lack of visibility (pedestrians in dark clothing on poorly lit, rural roadways), and pedestrians illegally in the roadway.
Consider the leading cause of pedestrian deaths over recent years in South Carolina is a person or persons lying in or illegally being in the roadway. It is thus not surprising that law enforcement reports another trend over the period: More pedestrians are intoxicated.
Pedestrian responsibility is as much a key to saving lives as any single action. Beyond sobriety, pedestrians should know the law and how to remain safe.
There is equally the problem of lack of knowledge by roadway users of laws regarding pedestrians. Pedestrians are directed by law to use a sidewalk, shoulder of the roadway or, if neither is available, to walk as far on the edge of the roadway as possible. Pedestrians also should walk facing traffic.