The Roads Bill – Conference Report

For more than 3 years, the SC House of Repesentatives has been working towards a solution to fix South Carolina Roads. With limited success, and road bumps in the Senate, it appears that THIS year could be the year our state’s infrastructure needs are finally addressed in a responsible manner.

After a rare feat in the Senate this year, Senators voted to kill a filibuster and passed their version of a bill to help the state. Last week, House and Senate conferees worked to combine the two versions (House/Senate) into a compromise bill that will hopefully pass both chambers – and more importantly – be able to garner enough votes to overturn an inevitable veto by Governor McMaster.

Here are the “main points” of the conference report. If you have questions, please post below or contact me here or by email me at NathanBallentine@schouse.gov.

HOUSE/SENATE CONFERENCE REPORT ON ROADS BILL

Governance and Reform

● Provides real accountability and transparency at the Department of Transportation (public records, mandated meetings, ethical requirements for commissioners)

● Gives Governor complete control of the Commission with a clear line of authority and at-will removal

● Requires General Assembly to approve all 9 Highway Commission appointees

● Highway Commission organized to reflect regional representation with 7 Congressional districts and 2 statewide at-large members appointed by the Governor (adds 1 member to current structure)

● Strengthens DOT’s control over project authorization and financial decisions by the State Transportation Infrastructure Bank

Funding

● Creates a long-term and sustainable funding stream by increasing the motor fuel user fee by 2 cents/gallon over the next 6 years, not exceeding 12 cents/gallon

● Safeguards taxpayers from future automatic tax increases by not indexing for inflation

● Protects SC taxpayers from continuing to solely foot the bill for infrastructure repair by not using General Fund dollars and captures 30% of the motor fuel user fee revenue from out-of-state motorists

● Creates an Infrastructure Maintenance Trust Fund to ensure all new revenue collected from the motor fuel user fee is used only for existing infrastructure needs

● Does not increase or change fees for South Carolina driver’s license applications or renewals

● Increases funding for County Transportation Committees targeted to repair rural and secondary roads

● Captures revenue from alternative energy motorists by creating a biennial registration fee for all hybrid and electric vehicles

● Established a road use fee to capture revenue from out of state truckers

● Raises the cap on motor vehicle sales tax to $500 and creates a $250 out of state maintenance fee

● Incentivizes road construction industry to return to SC with responsible infrastructure investment

● Provides $640 million in new annual revenue for infrastructure maintenance needs when fully implemented

Tax Relief

● Includes responsible tax relief to offset the user fee increase for South Carolina motorists

● Offers a refundable income tax credit equal to the motor fuel user fee increase that must be reauthorized prior to 2023

● Enhances already existing College Tuition Tax Credit for every South Carolina tuition-payer to enhance workforce development

● Contains a non-refundable Low Income Tax Credit for working families (not federal model)

● Increases the maximum income tax credit from $210 to $350 for dual income household joint filers

● Reduces SC manufacturers property tax burden by $35 million using a phased-in approach over 6 years

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