It seemed like road funding didn't get much air time in South Carolina's recently-concluded legislative session. That's not entirely true - the issue just didn't get anywhere.
The state of South Carolina's roads has been a perennial concern to the state's business community, which has pushed for years for solutions. Many, including the Charleston Chamber of Commerce, have said that they would even entertain higher taxes to pay for new and better-maintained roads - something you don't hear business groups saying too often.
Sen. Ray Cleary, R-Murrells Inlet, talked about the issue frequently on the Senate floor. But it never managed to gain traction, even as the non-profit group S.C. Alliance to Fix Our Roads pushed the issue.
It may have a better chance next year if Gov. Nikki Haley can come up with a palatable plan for road funding. She said in front of a business group Tuesday that she would work on a plan, the Post and Courier's Cynthia Roldan reported. She offered no details, other than it doesn't involve what she calls the "money tree" - the difference between fall and spring revenue estimate - or higher taxes.
Cleary told the Associated Press that if Haley has a plan, she should share it with voters before the November election.
"It is our job, though, just like I did with the education plan, to come up with a plan for transportation and roads that is consistent and that is constant," Haley said. "And we will give that to the legislature in January so that they do have a way to go forward and not feel like raising taxes is the only way."
Earlier this year, then-Department of Transportation Chief Robert St. Onge said the agency faced a $29 billion shortfall for repairs, and estimated the agency needed $48.3 billion to repair roads during the next 20 years.
The needs of DOT and the backlog of maintenance have made some skeptical that meaningful progress can be made without an increase in the state's 16-cent gas tax. among the nation's lowest.
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