The Senate plan to fix our roads and bridges is a major victory that only occurred because a handful of conservatives committed to stand and fight the tax-raisers and special interests. But, we could not have done it without you! The booming voices of the public wanting their roads fixed without raising taxes gave us what we needed to stand our ground until enough of the tax-raisers heard much of the same from their constituents as well.

The Senate roads plan, in short, accomplishes these major goals:

  • The Governor appoints the SCDOT Commission with advice and consent of the Senate
  • The SCDOT Commission hires a Secretary approved by the Governor
  • The SCDOT Commission must approve any decision of the Infrastructure Bank
    • Infrastructure Bank used to act on its own
  • $400m in recurring dollars per year from the state surplus to SCDOT

I support this plan because it accomplishes the priorities we have held since this fight began. The plan first reforms the mechanism by which road funding is distributed by putting the SCDOT Commission and Secretary under the direct control of the governor and subordinating the projects of the Infrastructure Bank to the statewide plan created by the SCDOT. This makes every single decision about our roads the purview of the governor, and it therefore makes the governor accountable for ALL of the roads in SC.

The bill’s new method of funding our roads is a major reform and also reflects what I have heard loudly and clearly from the vast, vast majority of the folks at home–no new taxes. The consensus plan sends $400m in new, recurring revenue to the reformed SCDOT. “New” revenue means that this $400m reflects tax collections above and beyond what was collected last year. “Recurring” revenue means that state budget analysts believe that this increased amount will be present every year going forward, barring a major recession such as that of 2008-2009. The fact is that state coffers are projected to receive a total of $750m in new, recurring revenue and approximately $750m in new, one-time revenue. That amount of new money makes it completely irresponsible to consider raising your taxes for anything, including road repair.

I also have heard from others that $400m is not enough to get our roads up to Grade A condition. However, I want the governor to take charge of SCDOT and come back to us a year later and tell us herself how much money we need. She has declared, and I do not disagree with her, that a large part of the problem at SCDOT is the political horse-trading that skews our road priorities. She soon will have control of the agency, and I look forward to her giving us revised projections of our road-funding needs. If she says that we need more money, then we will consider that next year.

I am very pleased with this roads plan, and I hope that the House of Representatives will abandon its tax and spend philosophy and embrace the conservatism that its majority claims when they ask for your vote. Hopefully they will concur with our Senate plan in the next couple of weeks.