COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - The Roads Bill is now law. Yes, the plan that has been the source of so much debate this session was signed by Governor Nikki Haley Wednesday. And it came with none of the pomp and circumstance that we so often see with major bill signings.
Nevertheless, here's what it all means:
- The legislation calls for two point two billion dollars in loans over a 10 year period.
- The money would be used for infrastructure improvements to crumbling and decaying roadways.
- It would also replace nearly 400 dilapidated bridges.
- And it makes fixing the traffic issues along “malfunction junction” a priority.
- The money would be funded with 200 million dollars annually in existing fees and vehicle sales taxes.
But as has been the case throughout the process, it didn't come without some final controversy.
Governor Nikki Haley was less than enthusiastic when signing the bill. In a letter to Senate President Pro Tempore Hugh Leatherman, the Governor said she believes "… a deal was cut, out of the public eye, and a new plan appeared in the Senate. It had not been studied…it had not been vetted….so let us be honest about what we accomplished in this bill: incremental and incomplete reform, or put a different way, far less than the people of South Carolina both expect and deserve from us."
So why did she sign it? Because she believes it is a better option than doing nothing at all.
Haley does admit the law provides a step forward in highway funding and marginal improvements to the Department of Transportation's governance. Haley now gets to restructure the DOT and its Commissioners.
Some in the Legislature argue that they should not be in the "roads business"
Most lawmakers say a long-term road-repair solution will require increasing the state's 16.75 cent-a-gallon gas tax, which is the third lowest in the nation.
That's exactly what WIS has been calling for over the period of many months.
So what does it all mean? Well, like Governor Haley said…it's better than the alternative of doing nothing at all.
Call this a "field goal" in the game of roads improvement. We're still waiting for the "touchdown."
And it looks like it won't happen for another year.
That's My Take, What's Yours?