Students rail against using bond bill for roads instead of gas tax

Students rail against using bond bill for roads instead of gas tax

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Fixing South Carolina roads, and funding education projects are two big issues in the hands of lawmakers now.

And since Gov. Henry McMaster wants to use millions of dollars in bonds for roads instead of college projects, students are speaking out.

Students from the University of South Carolina, Clemson University, and the College of Charleston wrote to the governor to try to pressure him and lawmakers against taking money from college projects to use for road repairs.

They fear that if campus building renovations are not paid for on the state's credit card under this bill that's in the State House now, their tuition will rise to fund it instead.

That bond bill would fund things like building renovations, like at USC's law school. About $500 million and send half to more than a dozen public colleges across the state, including the University of South Carolina's Columbia campus.

McMaster is fighting against raising the gas tax to pay for better roads, so he suggests lawmakers use this $500 million plus more.

Students want their voices heard before the Senate returns Tuesday to debate the gas tax bill to pay for roads.

"It's disappointing for me that the culture that we're in right now is to where the burden of capital improvements in projects that are state-owned buildings is being shifted from the state itself to the student body," USC student body President Ross Lordo said.

"What I sense is that there seems to be a general willingness to look at a higher education bond bill to help with specific projects," Senate Majority Leader Shane Massey said. "The problem that we have with infrastructure right now is a long-term funding proposal. You're not going to do that with a bond."

According to a recent Winthrop survey, South Carolinians polled said the biggest issue in the state right now is fixing roads. Just over 18 percent answered roads, about 12 percent said education.

Massey says he's looking forward to the debate on the gas tax on Tuesday, but will not vote for it without some kind of tax break elsewhere. ?

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