Road expert: Legislation might put governor in tough situation

Published: Apr. 18, 2015 at 3:04 AM EDT|Updated: Apr. 25, 2015 at 3:04 AM EDT
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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - It was a busy week at the State House, where a comprehensive roads plan finally made big progress.

But the politics and debate aren't over.

The President of the South Carolina Trucking Association has been following the legislation closely.

He's not sure what will happen over the next few weeks, but says Governor Nikki Haley might find herself in a tough position if she's forced to veto road funding.

As the president of the South Carolina Trucking Association, Rick Todd hears the same old complaints all the time.

"If we blow out a tire because we hit a big pot hole, that's a several hundred dollar tire," Todd said. "Then, you got the down-time, the expense of the repair, and lost productivity."

But this week, the South Carolina House of Representatives passed a bill that might pave the way to change.

"It's a good sign when you can get the House of Representatives, a very conservative body, to cast a vote of 87-20 on a tax increase," Todd said.

It was welcome news to Todd, but he's not celebrating just yet.

Governor Nikki Haley has said she'll veto any roads bill that doesn't include three things: reducing the Income Tax rate from 7 percent to 5 percent over the next decade, reforming SCDOT, and increasing the gas tax by ten cents over the next three years.

The House bill addresses the gas tax and SCDOT, but the Governor says she'll veto it because it doesn't cut taxes enough.

"I think the governor is in a tough position, because she's come out so strongly threatening a veto, despite the fact that the public overwhelmingly recognizes that the roads have to be fixed," Todd said.

He also said the current legislation, which only creates about $428 million a year to fix roads won't address the problem fully.

"It's going to take probably twice as much," Todd said.

But the President of the Trucking Association is hoping for compromise in the coming weeks.

"The people that I represent, the fleet owners, are very conservative business people, and they don't like taxes or regulation anymore than anybody else, probably less than the average person. But, they understand that roads are a capital investment and an investment that only government can provide," Todd said.

Todd says a roads plan will need to be passed this year. He said since 2016 is an election year it'll be impossible then.

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