South Carolina House leaders affirmed in a March 16 letter to Gov. Nikki Haley (R) that a gas tax increase would be taken off the table this legislative session.
In keeping with that pledge, the House on March 22 voted down a new gas tax increase proposal 64-43. Instead, the House proposed a plan to amend the Senate’s transportation funding bill in order to allocate $316 million in general fund revenue to the state department of transportation (SCDOT) for roadwork, plus another $49 million for emergency road repairs due to 2015 flooding damage. Counties would receive an additional $50 million for secondary roads.
The Senate approved the measure on March 9, but for $15 million less than the House’s version and a greater amount distributed to county roads. House lawmakers adjusted the allocations after South Carolina Secretary of Transportation Christy Hall appealed to the legislature on March 21 to invest more money on the state’s decaying primary road system.
Critics of the plan say the legislation neglects rural roads, will impact funding to other state services, and it is not the long-term transportation funding solution they intended to accomplish this legislative session.
On March 21, the House approved an additional bill that will transfer $100 million in revenue generated by Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) fees to the SCDOT. The diverted revenue would be replaced with an equivalent transfer from the state’s General Fund to the DMV. This revenue may be used to leverage up to $1 billion in bonds issued by the State Transportation Infrastructure Bank.