Legislative Updates

New Roads Plan Emerges

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WRITTEN BY lclark 1 year ago

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Progress doesn’t take weeks or months; it can be made in a short amount of time. As we anticipated, a roads funding bill is still viable. In the last two weeks, a new, stronger infrastructure funding plan has emerged. Senator Hugh Leatherman and the Senate Finance Committee have cobbled together $200 million in existing recurring funds from the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and the motor vehicle sales tax. The $200 million will be bonded through the State Infrastructure Bank, creating a total of $2.2 billion one time road funding dollars – not a long term solution, but a step in the right direction. The 15-year bonds will be paid off using the $200 million generated each year by the recurring funds from the DMV and motor vehicle sales tax. At the end of 15 years, the $200 million will be deposited into the state highway fund annually. The $2.2 billion will be prioritized by the South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT) over a 10-year period for bridge replacements and the most pressing highway projects. This will allow SCDOT to repair or replace all of the state’s load restricted and structurally deficient bridges. The remaining funds will be used for major interstate projects to help capacity problems and improve the most congested intersections. This additional money frees up  the annual funding SCDOT receives from the motor fuel user fee, which will be dedicated to paving and resurfacing projects on our primary and secondary roads. The bill passed the Senate last week by a vote of 34-4 and now moves to the House of Representatives. The conference committee working on the original roads plan met last week and the Senate and House members on the committee agreed to find a compromise to reforming the SCDOT, as long as the funding package mentioned above passes both chambers. This new funding plan provides significant progress towards fixing South Carolina’s crumbling infrastructure and is a preferred over using money from the General Fund. While this doesn’t address a long-term solution to our state’s road problem, it provides both the House and Senate more time to find a dedicated, recurring funding solution. Leaders in both chambers have vowed to make this happen in the next couple of years. While the Chamber will certainly continue to advocate for a sustainable, long-term solution, we applaud the Senate for their hard work in moving this new plan forward.
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