Haley signs Roads Bill under heavy objection - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Haley signs Roads Bill under heavy objection

(Source: WIS) (Source: WIS)
COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) -

Governor Nikki Haley signed S.1258 with little fanfare Wednesday.

The governor sent a letter to Senate President Pro Tempore Hugh Leatherman Wednesday announcing her signature of the bill.

Haley stated in her letter she believes the bill "accomplished incremental and incomplete reform, or put a different way, far less than the people of South Carolina both expect and deserve from us."

FULL COVERAGE: SC ROADS DEBATE

The governor noted that South Carolina is moving forward by giving her office appointment authority over the Transportation Commission: "...but let's be clear: that 'progress' is little more than window dressing. A legislative delegation can kill any nomination without a reason, without a hearing and without a vote. The governor can hire a commissioner but he or she does not have the ability to fire one - not without asking for permission first."

The law includes leadership changes, but Haley says they're "little more than window dressing."

She continued: "So nothing will change. The regional horse-trading that has been the driving force behind the arbitrary way we select road projects will continue. Political power will reign over logic and reason. And the statewide plan South Carolina so desperately needs will remain a pipe dream-unless and until the General Assembly acts."

Haley stated she signed the bill into law "for one reason: it is a better option than what we will have without this bill: a full reversion to the even more unaccountable and defective system that was replaced in 2007."

She says the law provides a step forward in highway funding and marginal improvements to the Department of Transportation's governance.

The signing of the bill follows more than two years of back-and-forth among state Legislators. 

The bill allows for $2.2 billion in borrowing over 10 years for infrastructure, funded with $200 million annually in existing fees and vehicle sales taxes.

Haley noted that earlier this year after the Senate's passage of the modified bill, Speaker John Lucas described it as "deceptive" and it would "mislead the public," and stated that she is in agreement with the Speaker's sentiment, adding that this law (sic) "is anything close to a victory, to represent it in any way as a true solution to our infrastructure problems, is to do just that."

SCDOT responded to the signing of the bill Wednesday night, stating it appreciates the efforts of Haley and the General Assembly to review highway funding issues and bring about solutions. The funding will bring several projects and needed repairs to fruition that have been deferred for years, according to DOT. 

"While S.1258 is a good first step on highway funding, it is not a long-term or complete solution for addressing the infrastructure needs of South Carolina. The state is at a critical point, where additional and rapid growth is putting extreme demands on a transportation system that is far from being in good condition," the agency said in a statement. 

SCDOT also explained in its statement that it looks forward to working with the State Infrastructure Bank to create a collaborative approach to prioritizing and financing the state's infrastructure needs. 

"While we wait for new funding to being to accumulate over the next year or so, we have already started the process of outlining a plan to deliver the complex interstate and bridge projects over the next decade," said Secretary of Transportation Christy Hall. "We will also diligently implement the administrative reforms and use this as an opportunity to increase our transparency to the public through revised reporting to the SCDOT Commission."

The South Carolina Trucking Association, a nonprofit representing the trucking transportation industry here, released a statement from Association President & CEO Rick Todd: “While the long-term funding challenges have not been resolved, nor are the reform components perfect, the political reality is that nobody gets all of what they want, and we can’t let the pursuit of perfection be the enemy of the good.”

The South Carolina Chamber of Commerce President Ted Pitts provided WIS with this statement: 

“The state’s business community thanks Governor Haley for her commitment to fixing South Carolina’s roads and bridges demonstrated by her signing of S.1258 today. We agree with the Governor that this bill is far from perfect and falls woefully short of a sustainable, long-term solution to a problem that has plagued our state for too long. However, we also agree that the bill the Governor has signed into law today is an improvement in terms of governance and funding, and is a step in the right direction. The Chamber will continue to make infrastructure a top priority, and we look forward to working with the Governor and the General Assembly on a long-term solution to fix our state’s roads and bridges.” 

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