COLUMBIA - Gov. Nikki Haley said Tuesday she plans to introduce a plan that will dive into the funding for the state's roads.
During a campaign press conference, Haley said her office is focusing this summer on finding a revenue stream that will go straight to roads. She said she intends to introduce the plan to the legislature during the upcoming legislative session.
"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.
At the time, St. Onge said he didn't know what else the agency could do without more money being allocated. But Haley has continually warned against raising taxes and promised to veto a gas tax bill should any surface during the legislative session that just ended.
South Carolina's gas tax is among the lowest in the nation, at 16 cents a gallon. In 2013 the Palmetto State came in as No. 1 in the nation for the lowest gas prices for the second year in a row, according to a report by AAA. More than 60 percent of South Carolina's roads are maintained by the state, according to the South Carolina Alliance to Fix Our Roads.
Haley said Tuesday state revenues have grown by just "being smarter." She added that's why she keeps cautioning the legislature that, though South Carolina is doing very well, it can drop as fast as it rose.
"It is the reason why I'll show them how to pay for transportation," Haley said. "But you want to be very careful when you go down that road of increasing taxes, because all you have to do is look at our northeastern states and see what's happened when they start raising taxes. That's not going to happen to South Carolina under my watch."
Reach Cynthia Roldan at 708-5891.
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