Roads, bridges a top priority for SC lawmakers

Published: Jan. 9, 2014 at 10:49 PM EST|Updated: Jan. 19, 2014 at 10:54 PM EST
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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - State lawmakers are just days away from returning for the 2014 legislative session. With issues unresolved from last year like ethics reform and renewed concern over road repairs, it seems a busy few months are ahead.

The issue lawmakers say they are getting the most phone calls from their constituents about has to do with the roads and highways we drive on every day.

If you thought the $1 billion Gov. Nikki Haley allocated to fix the state's worst roads and highways would be enough, think again.

Lawmakers say South Carolina's ranking for having some of the most dangerous roads in the nation isn't about to lift.

"We need an additional $476 million to meet our paving needs per year," said State Sen. Ray Cleary III, R-Murrells Inlet. "$64 million more because we have 1,600 bridges failing."

Some lawmakers said new steams of revenue need to be put on the table in order to fix the problem, but proposed legislation isn't in the form of a tax.

"We have 17 amendments creating fees," Clearly said. "So God Bless you all, you may have to pay $10 or $15 extra when you renew your driver's license every ten years."

South Carolina ranking as having one of the lowest gas takes in the nation may also be on the line.

Clearly is backing legislation that would raise the $0.16 motor fuel user fee two cents each year until it reaches. $0.36.

"We haven't increased the gas tax since 1987," Clearly said.

State Sen. Brad Hutto, D-Orangeburg, said a better solution for the average South Carolinian would be to create a toll system that would focus on out of state visitors.

"The people that are wearing down the highways don't live here, and yet the burden is falling on South Carolina tax payers," Hutto said.

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