FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: APRIL 26, 2017
Contact: Reagan Kelley
SENATE PASSES H.3516, A BILL TO FIX SOUTH CAROLINA ROADS
The Three-pronged Bill Includes Increased Revenue, Agency Reforms and Reductions
COLUMBIA S.C. — Tonight at 10:52 p.m., the Senate gave a key second reading to House Bill 3516, commonly referred to as the roads bill. The bill, recognized as the most priority piece of legislation this year, cleared the important hurdle by a 33-10 vote.
The bill, as passed by the Senate, raises the state’s gasoline tax 2 cents over 6 years, 12 cents in total, in addition to other fees. The increased user fee will provide approximately $800 million annually in new revenue to be sent to a newly created Maintenance Infrastructure Trust Fund fully designated to repairing existing state roads. Under competitive safeguards, at no point may South Carolina’s gasoline tax be higher than border states North Carolina and Georgia.
Senate Republicans successfully added stronger reforms to the Department of Transportation to ensure the agency will operate more efficiently and be more accountable to the taxpayers. The bill provides the governor the authority to remove the Commissioners at will, and adds an additional ninth Commissioner at-large to be appointed by the governor with advice and consent of the Senate.
The Senate plan protects taxpayers by allowing South Carolina residents to receive a tax credit applied to vehicle maintenance based on the amount of gasoline used throughout a year.
Senate Majority Leader Shane Massey said, “from day one, fixing South Carolina’s roads and bridges was our top priority. I am pleased the Senate acted in a way that provides long-term funding, protects taxpayers and ensures that SCDOT will operate more efficiently and be held more accountable.”
“It has long been clear to me that the most appropriate and fiscally responsible solution to South Carolina’s road crisis must include sustained and dedicated funding to roads, reforms to inequitable areas of our tax system and reforms to the SCDOT that ensure efficiency and accountability. All three components were included in the plan that passed the Senate tonight. Because of that, we can now begin to fix our roads,” Senator Sean Bennett said.
“The Senate passed a bill tonight that will fix our roads, repair our broken DOT structure and do it in a way that is responsible to the S.C. taxpayer,” Senator Larry Grooms said.
“We’ve recognized from the beginning of this year’s session that solving South Carolina’s infrastructure and providing long-term funding to the SCDOT is paramount,” Senator Greg Hembree said. “The debate on how to best improve our state’s roads received extensive, substantive debate often into late hours of the night. These thorough debates over how to best solve one of the state’s most pressing issues is what the democratic process is about.”
The bill now heads to the House for consideration of added amendments. The House may concur with the Senate amendments and send the bill to the governor’s desk, or non-concur with amendments and send the bill to a Conference Committee consisting of three House members and three Senators to form the final bill to receive a vote.