South Carolina is inching closer to a long-awaited transportation funding bill.
South Carolina’s House voted 102-3 on May 24 in favor of a measure that provides $4 billion for roads and bridges over the next decade. The bill also changed the structure of the state's Transportation Commission and lowers the threshold for applications to be considered by the Infrastructure Bank from $100 million to $25 million.
House Education and Public Works Committee Chairwoman Rita Allison, who led last year’s failed fight to pass a fuel-tax increase to fund transportation, called the current bill “a good outcome.”
The bill moved on to the Senate, where its fate is uncertain. The chambers are scheduled to adjourn June 2. The House and Senate have offered competing transportation-funding legislation for much of the sessions of 2015 and 2016. The Senate declined to act on the House’s funding-governance measure last year.
If the Senate concurs this time, $200 million from vehicle sales taxes and Department of Motor Vehicles fees would go to South Carolina’s Department of Transportation, which would be expected to ask the Infrastructure Bank to issue $2.2 billion in bonds as SCDOT Secretary Christy Hall recently explained to a House subcommittee. Hall has said her department has a $1.2 billion funding shortfall.
“Members of the House understand that the people of South Carolina expect their Legislature to pass a roads bill this year," Speaker Jay Lucas said in a statement. "Although more effort must be made next session to find a long-term funding stream, this bill is a starting point that allows for adequate repair of deficient roads and bridges without raiding our state’s general fund."