COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - From traffic jams to potholes, driving through the Palmetto State is an unsettling experience.
My travels over the holidays took me to several states. It was such a relief to get out of South Carolina and into our neighboring states to see three-lane, pothole-free roads.
Even though it was the number one priority last session, our elected officials failed to pass legislation to fix the infrastructure problem.
Governor Nikki Haley made it clear during her State of the State address Wednesday night that she is standing firm.
"I will not sign any piece of legislation that raises taxes – not in year one, not in year five, not in year ten," Governor Haley said. "I will not sign any piece of legislation that does not include real reform to the Department of Transportation – the days of horse-trading South Carolina roads have to end. And I will not buy into the idea that we somehow cannot afford to cut income taxes for our people."
The governor's plan includes raising the gas tax by a dime, but lowering the state's tax rate significantly, using up to a billion dollars in new revenue already flowing into the state. In 2015, lawmakers argued the governor's plan wouldn't raise enough money. Dueling plans in the General Assembly called for gas tax hikes ranging from 10-12 cents. Those plans also included increasing fees for driver's licenses and sales taxes on vehicles. In the end, nothing passed.
"Pass legislation that cuts our taxes, reforms our flawed transportation system, and invests in our roads, and I will sign it," the governor said. "Pass legislation that does not do all three of those things, and I will veto it. The choice is clear, and it's all yours."
Lawmakers, you're all back in Columbia and it's time to take some quick action. The extraordinary floods of early October have hopefully taught you something about having a strong infrastructure.
Do not fail the state again.
That's my take, what's yours?