COLUMBIA — Gov. Nikki Haley said Tuesday she wants total oversight of the state Department of Transportation to fix the cash flow troubles at the agency.
Haley, a Republican, said the Legislature should eliminate the department's governing commission so Transportation Secretary Robert St. Onge, a retired Army general, can focus on the agency's mission and not have to juggle competing interests.
That will be a hard sell among some legislators, including Senate President Pro Tem Glenn McConnell, R-Charleston, who said that the problems at the agency are already under the governor's oversight. Early this summer, the department fell behind on its payments to contractors who fix and maintain the state's roads and bridges. The department also was late on paying back its major construction loans.
Haley said she can be most effective when she is able to sit down with an agency director and figure out a plan to straighten out any problems. She said lawmakers need to build on their overhaul of the agency several years ago, which split oversight between the governor and the transportation commission. The commission members are appointed by legislators and the governor.
"We knew it was the first step in reform to cleaning it up," Haley said. Under St. Onge, that will lead to better management of the state's roads and bridges, she said.
"Hold him accountable and ultimately hold me accountable," the governor said.
Read more in Wednesday's editions of The Post and Courier.