The “Roads Bill” – we vote next week! Your thoughts?

February 9, 2017

House Ways and Means Committee Passes Roads Bill
Includes Long-term Funding and Governance Reform

(Columbia, SC) – House Speaker Jay Lucas (District 65-Darlington) issued the following statement after the Ways and Means Committee amended and adopted H. 3516 . The bill will be added to the House legislative calendar next week for debate in the coming weeks.

“South Carolina has the most dangerous roads in the country. Businesses and job creators continue to stress the importance of infrastructure repair as a necessity to further economic investments. For the past several years the General Assembly has allotted a significant portion of the general fund surplus to roads, but pressing needs for education, social services, and retirement deficits will require those monies this year. Our citizens have demanded that those who use our roads must be the ones to pay for repair, not just the South Carolina taxpayer. The House also understands that every dollar raised for infrastructure repair should be used solely for the intended purpose of fixing our roads and bridges, which is why additional funding will be placed in an Infrastructure Maintenance Trust Fund.

“A gradual increase to the state’s motor fuel user fee is the most responsible option to generate a long-term, sustainable funding stream for road repair. I will not support using general fund revenue for road appropriation again. House Majority Leader Gary Simrill and Ways and Means Chairman Brian White have worked extensively on this infrastructure plan and I commend them for their efforts. As the House roads bill moves to the floor for debate, I look forward to working with my colleagues to ensure its passage as fixing our roads is my number one priority.”

Provisions Included in the House Road Funding Bill:

• Creates an Infrastructure Maintenance Trust Fund
• Increases motor fuel user fee 10 cents/gallon over a 5 year period
• Biennial motor vehicle registration fee increase of $16
• Increases auto sales cap to $500 for South Carolina drives
• Capitalizes on out-of-state registered vehicles
• Creates biennial registration fees for all hybrid and electric vehicles
• Creates a motor carrier road user fee for out-to-state truckers
• Reforms governance of the SCDOT Highway Commission

(HERE IS ADDITIONAL INFORMATION – FROM ME – REGARDING THE SUPPORT AND OPPOSITION TO THE BILL, AS WELL AS ADDITIONAL DATA)

State of SC Department of Transportation 2017

Tax Foundation: State Gasoline Tax Rates

The State: The House’s roads bill would cost $60 a year for a driver who travels 15,000 miles a year in a vehicle that gets 25 miles per gallon

The State: Gas-tax hike a ‘last resort’ – Governor McMaster

SUPPORTS:
South Carolina Alliance to Fix Our Roads
SC Chamber of Commerce

OPPOSES:
Americans for Prosperity

Comments

  1. This needs to be done. Good roads attract businesses which obviously contributes to our tax base, so raising the gas tax is an investment. And driving I-26 from Irmo into town rattles my car and strips it from all the car’s advertised benefits of sound attenuation! I think the greatest fear over the past years has been the amount designated for road repair inevitably ends up someplace else. I don’t want to see the tax approved and then, through devious steps in the future, the tax remains but the money goes toward other projects. I travel out of state a bit, and it’s always an embarrassment to come back to SC roads. Getting this done is more important than ideological purity of low taxes and a conservative approach; we need to raise the funds for good roads and bridges.

  2. David Schmidt says:

    It’s a no-brainer to tax those that use the roads. WE must have a gas tax increase and an overwhelming majority of voters support this idea. We also are privy to the most dangerous stretch of I-95 in the country. Presently, 6 states have tolls on I-95. Why not SC? The Federal government has made it a lot easier to create toll roads if the profits are used to improve that road. Henry M’s. comment about it not working well in the Upstate is baloney. The people traveling I85 have a choice of which road to use. Not so on I95. Unless travelers want to waste valuable time circumventing the toll road, they will be forced to use it. Two simple solutions. Now is the time to act.

  3. Jennifer Pendleton says:

    Dear Representative Ballentine,

    I wish that the funds that had been allocated toward road repair had been used for such, but I like the idea going forward of an infrastructure maintenance trust fund. I will agree that the roads are in disrepair. I-26 from above the Ballentine exit all the way into Columbia is very bad along the edge of the right lane. Secondary roads have many pot holes. I would prefer not to have a tax increase on gas, but I don’t know what the alternative is.

    On a different subject, I have always been curious about the possibility of creating reform for EBT cards. I find it shocking that people are allowed to use their EBT cards to purchase any food in the grocery store — only excluding alcohol and cigarettes. I would be completely in support of creating a list of qualifying items just like the WIC program. I have often wondered if such reform could be enacted.

    Thank you for your hard work for our community

  4. James L. Stevens says:

    As I have said before, I use the roads and will gladly pay my share as long as heavy users like truckers [which do 10,000X the damage of one car] and [increasingly] electrics pay likewise.
    The roads are terrible [eg I-26] and improvements to areas like Malfunction Junction are desperately needed. Good luck with the Senate and Gov. McMaster

  5. Georgia Metz says:

    Nathan,
    I am in complete support of whatever we have to do to fix our roads (including raising taxes) however I still don’t understand what happened to the revenue from the Penny Sales Tax from several years ago. Can we be sure that this new tax will actually go to fixing our roads? In other words, is SOMEONE going to be accountable?
    You have Kent’s and my complete support in whatever you decide. We think you are doing a great job for us!
    Love
    Georgia

  6. John Brinkley says:

    The only other states in which I travel are Georgia and Florida. Their roads are superior to ours.
    The traffic at “malfunction junction” in Columbia (I-26, Bush River to Harbison) is absurd. I am ready to pay more gas and sales tax to improve our travel and safety.

  7. My concern with raising all these taxes is that we are throwing good money after bad with the current management of SCDOT. We cannot get a road survey up here in Chapin where subdivisions are exploding on the peninsulas of Lake Murray, and what used to be a 20 minute drive to Columbia takes 60-95 minutes during the mornings and evenings. We are nervously awaiting an accident to happen and people die because emergency vehicles cannot get to us. SCDOT is deaf and dumb to this. It makes me shutter to hand them more money. Sure, our roads are crap. The ones around my area are in poor shape, but I worry that if I support giving SCDOT more money, I’ll pay for it and never see a dime of value. We have several agencies that need serious reform, but nothing is being done. Expensive band-aids, in my opinion.

  8. Dennis Baker says:

    I would be more than happy to pay a higher gas tax, in fact, 10 cents/gallon right now would be better. We just returned from Texas, and their roads are MARVELOUS, almost unbelievable. Stayed 60 miles from Dallas/Ft Worth, and traveled the suburbs and country around them, even to Oklahoma. NEVER saw a pothole. Even 2-lane farm roads are immaculate. You have to pay for that, it doesn’t just appear, and you have to keep it up every year. Increased tax is the only way to do that. The penny is making noticeable improvements, but they are just in spots, not overall.

  9. Trina Dickerson says:

    This is a reasonable bill to fix our roads. We spend way too much for maintenance to our vehicles caused by traveling on pothole filled roads that are not only dangerous, but are downright embarrassing. It’s a shame when you can tell you’ve crossed state lines on our interstates and roads by the sudden shifts in road quality and aesthetics. SC will always be the state with “Smiling Faces and Beautiful Places,” as long as you don’t look at our roadways.

  10. Charlene Meetze says:

    Nathan. I completely disagree with the “raise the gas tax” solution. From the bits and pieces we get from various sources, there is a great deal of money in the budget being hoarded for a few of the powerful Senator’s districts. That coupled with the fact that I think there should be a strong study of the governmental agencies to determine where funds can be cut, departments can be merged, building useage can be justified as well as some non-essential agencies receiving budget cuts. Having managed a business for over 40 years, I know that belt tightening can be done. I worked for a state agency for years and the budget process was laughable as many “think tank” sessions were held to justify money for departments and programs that were fluff and non-essential. A 10 cents/gallon increase might not hurt individuals, but, imagine running a fleet of vehicles. Our tax and spend habit must be backed up by some serious study of how the current tax dollars are spent to benefit all of SC. I just looked over a listing of all of the state agencies…really! I could never be convinced that some of these agencies/department/programs couldn’t be merged or completely done away with in order to prioritize our hard earned tax dollars in a more responsible way.

  11. from what I read, only 30% of our “gas tax” revenue currently is being used for infra structure/roads,. Is that right and does the rest go in to General Use? If so it is like what U S did to SOC SEC funds and uses them regularly for every thing else. The County 1cent tax seems to have had little or no effect on roads in our area. So I am for NO NEW TAXES and spending current ones where they were/are supposed to be spent from and to. As far as a Infrastructure Maintenance Trust Fund, Isn’t that a function of the already existing STIB? more duplication, more government, more places to mask political pet projects? NO Bill Yaun

  12. I know the state needs more money to get our roads in shape, I hear 1.2 to 1.8 billion more a year than it gets right now. I hate taxes and tax increases, but I also want better roads, which means i have to pay more, we have to pay more. I am ready to pay more. My only concern is 2% added to the gas tax,enough.
    What is our tax now per gallon ?
    How much is coming in each year from the gas tax?
    What do other states nearby pay per gallon in tax?
    How much will the 2% add to the solution?
    Thanks this should help us also get the message across

  13. I am not in favor of raising the cap on auto sales tax.
    Question: Do we have an existing network of personnel, etc. to collect the motor carrier road use fee? I am not sure if I favor this provision.
    For the rest, I say, yes, please pass this!

  14. Hal Bowman says:

    We have to repair and improve the roads and bridges now. We are decades behind our neighbors. I do not enjoy paying taxes anymore than others, but I am prepared to pay a higher gas tax so that we can have decent and safe roads.

  15. Elizabeth P. Bray says:

    It is critical that SC establish this Infrastructure Maintenance Trust Fund! I support H 3516 without reservation.

  16. HILDA FLAMHOLTZ says:

    I think that increasing the tax on fuel makes a ton of sense, but I think that charging people who buy more fuel efficient cars a fee is absolutely crazy. We already paid more to do our part because we care about the environment and understand the impact of fossil fuels. We are helping the rest of South Carolinians — especially the coast avoid rising tides due to climate change. And we did that just because we understand science and we care about others. Why on earth you would penalize that is beyond me.

    • Louise Burpee says:

      You are so right. To penalize people who are doing the right thing for the future of our environment is outrageous. Instead, there could be a surcharge fee per vehicle based on the weight, since that is what contributes to the road damage. Consider the difference between a Prius and a Suburban, a Ford 250 and an 18 wheeler. This seems just too logical for our government to consider. Better yet, we should have been collecting 5 cents a gallon extra in gas taxes for the past year when the bill collapsed. Please someone, calculate that amount (5 cents times the gallons of gasoline purchased in SC in 2016) and publish it so the people of our state would understand the amount of money that we COULD have put into our roads, provided it went TO THE ROADS. We are way behind in this. We have opportunity to raise money for our roads from out of state travelers and the gas tax should be the source of the road repair income.

  17. Lindley D Hummel says:

    I say no new taxes. Straighten out the taxes and budget first. I say this because I pay money to register my vehicle every year. The registration fee goes to too many different things that have nothing to do with a vehicle or the roads. If there is a tax on gas and vehicles it should go to fix the roads, nothing else. Stop misappropriating money and then we can talk raising taxes.

  18. Ben Stuckey says:

    I support the bill, but wonder if 5 years is not too long to do the gas tax increase, we need $$$ now and think maybe 3 years would be more better.
    Also notice that there is strog support for legal gambling casinos, and I wouldsupport this as a means to get more road $$$ also. Think this would not only increase tourism, gas $$$ but also add to overall budget.

  19. Daisy Massey says:

    I would like for you to vote for the house bill as it stands. We can’t continue to let our roads fall apart. Some people seem to forget that people who travel through our state will also be helping pay for the roads with the gas tax. I never like raising taxes but sometimes there is no choice.

    I did hear that all of the current gas tax money does not go to the roads but some goes to DOT employees. I don’t understand that and maybe we should start with taking that money back for the roads.

    On another totally different subject: Gov. McMaster must have lost his mind when he raised his chief of staff’s salary by $30,000. Many state employees–especially those in the clerical field–may never make $30,000 a year. What McMaster did is shameful. Maybe McMaster should just step down and let his chief of staff take over for him.

  20. Joe Mac Bates, Jr. and Annie C. Bates says:

    Dear Nathan:
    1. Road Tax: I understand only a small portion of this Gas Tax goes to Road Maintenance, less tan HALF. Maybe as little as 25%?? If it is a ROAD TAX with 100% money goes to roads, that’s fine. If anything else, please vote NO! Or has the liberal RINO Lucas got you under his thumb,too?

    2. Fire Arms, the 2nd Amendment says “… shall not be infringed upon.” We already have the 7th MOST RESTRICTIVE laws in the US. Please Support the Constitutional Carry bill so I can defend my family if and when it is necessary without asking The Government permission. Please Do Not Agree to ANY added gun restrictions what-so-ever. Sen. Kimpson and company are on the payroll of former NYC Mayor (crook) Bloomberg. All they want to do is CONTROL People, you and me. NONE of those “people Control” gun ban proposals accomplish anything but restrict and control law abiding citizens. Criminals do not abide by Laws. I spoke at the Columbia “Gun Dog & Pony Show” when it was in town. Those high and mighty elite liberals uninterrupted me and accused me of improperly addressing the subject. I was not violating the rules of etiquette for that event. They just did not like what I was saying. They say “Facts have no business in making SC Laws.” Just “feelings!”

    3. Do not support the National Driver ID. It is nothing more than putting all of us in a Federal ID Bank which will be used to harass law abiding citizens. I have no problem showing two (20 forms of ID if I ever want to fly anywhere.
    Joe Mac

  21. Bruce Gilbert says:

    I agree with all of the provisions of the proposed roads bill EXCEPT “biennial registration fees for all hybrid and electric vehicles.” Drivers/Vehicle owners who have chosen to be environmentally responsible and many times have paid a premium for doing so should NOT be penalized.

  22. Edwin Johnson says:

    I can agree on the provisions Except the “biennial registration fees” . We already have enough fees to pay.

    I agree that our roads in bad shape and something needs to be done, I ride a motorcycle and a lot of the roads are just a plain hazard to ride. We spend enough time already watching out for animals, texting drivers, impaired drivers, debris on the roads, drivers with their minds on other things besides driving, bad merging lanes and now large pot holes and cracks in the roads.

    My main concerns are we start collecting this money for road repair and
    1) Only a small amount of the funds find it’s way for what it is collected for, ( Seems to happen a lot ) 2) It gets rerouted to someone’s pet projects
    3) The budget on something else falls short and it is moved to it
    4) The funds are mostly used up on evaluations of what needs be done and in what order of repair.

    Collect the funds and use it for what it is collected for…….

  23. Kathy Spiliotopoulos says:

    I live on a pennisula of Lake Murray in the Chapin area where housing developments are going up at a frantic pace. We will soon have thousands of new residents here. Our roads are in poor shape and already choked with traffic at rush hour. Thre have been incidents of emergency services taking 45 minutes to respond. However, there appears to have been no planning for this massive increase in population. Where are the SCDOT traffic studies? What are the SCDOT plans to repair and modify the state roads such as Old Lexington Highway and Wessinger Road that transect our penninsula? It seems to me that we first need a reasonable infrastructure improvemnt plan to assure that work will be done where it is most urgently needed. I am not convinced that raising taxes will result in road improvements in areas such as mine where poor conditions and mounting traffic create a disaster waiting to happen.

  24. Bruce M. Larrabee, Jr. says:

    I think there is no other alternative than to raise the gas tax and let those using the highways pay for the upkeep. That includes me!!

  25. Bob Privette says:

    Need to raise the gas tax by at least 6 cents a gallon.

    You guys need to at least eliminate the 1% annual increase on the state pension.
    Do not transfer paying for some of it through our property taxes.
    You guys realize most workers do not earn a pension so to ask them to possibly
    work longer so state workers are well taken care of is not fair.

  26. Gina Summer says:

    Raise the gas tax. Everyone using our roads pays. We have extremely low gas taxes compared to other states.
    Way overdue. Designate the funds for road repair and do not let it be diverted. Talk so sense into the governor!

  27. Charlene Meetze says:

    Nathan, I think everyone is in agreement that the roads are in dire need of repair. I am NOT in favor of raising the tax on fuel because I think that the questions regarding the allocation of existing funds should be answered for the public. Hearing the way transportation/highway funds have been handled and allocated to only a few counties with the more powerful legislators is disturbing! I’m ready to hear our legislators tackle this issue and demand change on behalf of the people. Raising the fuel tax for individuals is palatable; however, try putting 10 – 12 trucks on the road every day and absorbing that cost. Businesses will have to raise their prices and thus costs to the public will go up. Fiscal responsibility is severely lacking. When will someone in the legislature roll up their sleeves and demand better accountability for tax dollars already collected?!

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