Adam Beam writes that the two contentious aspects of South Carolina's new transportation bill are that it relies heavily on borrowing and that the amount is insufficient to address the state's transportation needs. In fact, the bill was written by state Senate Minority Leader Nikki Setzler, D-Lexington, as many of the governor's fellow Republicans objected to the borrowing.
The bill allows the Transportation Department to transfer $50 million per year of state surplus funds to the State Infrastructure Bank "to borrow at least $500 million to repair interstates and primary roads." The $41.4 million per year to repair secondary roads would come from reallocating half the state's auto sales tax revenue. "An additional transfer of $50 million in one-time money to repair bridges" would be used to accept up to $250 million in federal funds.
Beam writes that according to the state transportation officials, there will be a $29 billion deficit to address road repairs over the next 20 years. Business groups had been lobbying strongly for increased road funding.
The passage of the bill is significant. Two years ago the state's DOT was in dire financial straits and "had to turn to the federal government for its cash flow problem", as noted here.
Also in The State, Associated Press reporter Jeffrey Collins writes that the 16-cents a gallon state gas tax hasn't been raised since 1987. According to the Tax Foundation, the state has the 47th lowest gas tax in the U.S., though they will be #48 after July 1.
Wyoming, another red state with a 14-cent gas tax, will see a 10-cent increase after Gov. Matt Mead signed legislation last February. Upon signing, he stated that "... the state can no longer afford to subsidize the transportation department from general funds." Like South Carolina's business community, he noted that "the state's highway system is vital to economic development."