After months of legislative debate on road funding plans, South Carolina House Republican leaders on April 12 amended the Senate’s transportation funding plan in order to change the bill’s governance reforms and remove revenue allocation.
The Senate plan, approved March 9, would have transferred $400 million from the general fund and divided the money between the South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT) and the state’s 46 counties.
The House had proposed slight alterations to the plan on March 22, which included a $15 million increase.
However, after returning from a short recess, House Republican leaders stated that the Senate’s plan did not provide a sustainable transportation funding solution for the state, and that an internal audit of SCDOT did not adequately identify problems within the department. Instead, lawmakers are proposing removing transportation funding entirely and addressing it later in the state budget. The plan would also require legislative confirmation hearings for high-ranking SCDOT officials after nomination by the governor, and mandate the department’s internal auditor report to House and Senate oversight committees rather than SCDOT commissioners.
Reactions to the House GOP’s decision:
Gov. Nikki Haley (R) expressed her disappointment in a social media statement on April 12:
“Since the Senate passed a roads bill weeks ago, the House has known they either work with the Senate, pass real, good reform, or the bill dies. Today we learned House leadership has chosen to pass an amendment they know has zero chance of becoming law. That’s a terrible shame, and every South Carolinian should know that tomorrow, the Republican House of Representatives plans to kill two years of work and that as a result, there will be no change in their road conditions anytime soon.”
Several House Republicans responded to the House GOP Caucus’s decision and Gov. Haley’s statement:
“The real shame is that Gov. Haley has chosen to put politics over policy and mislead the people of South Carolina. Sadly, instead of working with us to initiate real and meaningful reforms to fix our roads, Gov. Haley focuses on stopping progress with baseless political attacks.” – House Speaker Jay Lucas (R-Darlington), The State
“It is folly to make a promise to the people of South Carolina that roads will be fixed without a reliable, steady funding stream. The governor is now echoing these promises that she knows cannot be kept. That is the real shame.” – Rep. Gary Simrill (R- York), The State
“We have the worst roads in the nation. I applaud the House (caucus) for not adopting a phony plan. The Senate plan is a phony plan that does nothing.” – Rep. Chip Limehouse (R- Charleston), Greenville News
“We do not believe a General Fund funding of roads is a long term sustainable solution.” House Majority Leader Bruce Bannister (R- Greenville), Greenville News