South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) on June 8 signed into law a bill to permanently dedicate Department of Motor Vehicle fees and fines to the State Highway Fund, as well as all revenues derived from state motor vehicle sales tax (currently only 50 percent is used for transportation purposes), to generate approximately $200 million per year for the state’s roads and bridges. The recurring revenue will be utilized to issue up to $2.2 billion in bonds for immediate use on transportation construction projects. Including existing revenue, the South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT) anticipates accomplishing more than $4 billion of work over the next decade.
The legislation will also transfer an additional $65,680,000 to the SCDOT from the General Fund, to be used for the South Carolina Transportation Infrastructure Bank. The first $50 million will be used to finance bridge replacement and rehabilitation projects and improvements on existing roads within the State Highway System, with remaining revenue used to fund expansion and improvements to mainline interstates.
Finally, the bill ties in additional reform measures for the SCDOT.
Upon signing the bill, Gov. Haley acknowledged that the bill was not the long-term transportation funding solution that the legislature had set out to accomplish in the beginning of the session, nor did it contain the extensive reform measures she had requested. “It is also true that we must find a permanent fix to funding our roads and bridges, the type of fix that does not exist in this legislation,” Haley said.
Introduced April 20 and subject to several rounds of amendments, the bill received final approval by the Senate 31-10 on May 31 and by the House 109-2 on June 1. Senate File 1258 will take effect July 1.
Reactions from South Carolina:
“On behalf of the SC Alliance to Fix our Roads, we would like to commend the General Assembly’s action on passing a road funding and DOT reform plan to begin to address our crumbling roads and bridges. The additional funding adds much-needed capacity to expand roads and relieve congestion, which is vital to South Carolina’s industrial development. Also, incorporating the reform measures allows the Legislature to move forward on finding a long-term solution to our state’s critical transportation needs.”
“Our organization’s mission is to advocate for a safe and efficient highway system. While the bill addresses some of our current needs, it falls short on delivering adequate funding to our entire system. We applaud the General Assembly for dedicating $212 million in recurring dollars.”
“S. 1258 is just the beginning. I am looking forward to the 2017 legislative session in order to continue the dialogue over the search for sustainable sources of revenue and to address the governance cloud that remains. The goal will be to bring us much closer to providing a highway system in good condition that will be able to adapt as South Carolina continues to grow and to ensure our citizens that the funds are spent wisely on statewide priorities.”
“This bill is far from perfect and falls woefully short of a sustainable, long-term solution to a problem that has plagued our state for too long. However, we also agree that the bill the Governor has signed into law today is an improvement in terms of governance and funding, and is a step in the right direction.”
“Instead of holding out and insisting upon something that would really serve the people of South Carolina we settled for something inferior. We’re going to revisit it because we didn’t do the job this year.”