Proper maintenance and building of our roads is a core function of government. SC has the 4th largest state highway system in the US. It is obvious that despite the SC Department of Transportation taking up a large portion of the state’s budget, we have fallen way behind on keeping up with repairing our roads and bridges.
I have supported many measures that would put more funding into the DOT. However, putting more money into an inefficient system will not solve the problem. It is estimated that it would take $20 billion to get all our roads and bridges up to proper safety standards. This is an enormous amount of money. Money we simply don’t have.
In August of 2014, a bipartisan House Legislative committee was assembled to examine the DOT and help it become more streamlined and efficient with your tax money. If we considered raising gasoline taxes or any other taxes, we also had to make sure that inefficiency and waste were eliminated. This committee had an enormously complicated task, but they recommended, among many things, to modify the gasoline tax and partially tie it to market price rather than on a strictly per-gallon basis. If this had been done years ago, we would not have to revisit this tax. It would have been self-adjusting. However, this bill passed the House but stalled in the Senate. They also recommended an audit of the DOT. This was completed in March of 2016. There were many problems cited in the report. However, under the leadership of Secretary of Transportation Kristy Hall, a new focus is developing at the DOT. She and her staff have introduced reforms that will make the department less political and more equitable and efficient to our citizens. In 2017 there was a renewed effort to give the DOT a sustainable revenue stream. A House bill did this in the form of giving the Governor more direct authority over the DOT as well as a providing for the revenue it needs. This bill became law in 2017.
Over the coming months, I am hopeful that much will change and we can ultimately give our citizens and businesses the great roads they deserve.