South Carolina lawmakers went back to the Statehouse Tuesday to take care of business they didn’t finish during their regular session, including passing a state budget and deciding how to spend a budget surplus. The big question is how much of the surplus they’ll put toward fixing roads and bridges.
The House Ways and Means Committee has passed a plan that would spend $150 million of the surplus on roads, but sending the money to the counties instead of the DOT.
Ways and Means Chairman Brian White, R-Anderson, told fellow House members, “We want to ensure that this $150 million actually goes on state roads, not county roads, bike paths, parking lots, beautification and so on. It must be spent on state roads.”
But House Minority Leader Rep. Todd Rutherford, D-Columbia, says, “It’s like putting lipstick on a pig. It amounts to very little. $150 million that we’re allocating would cover about one percent of the state’s roads.”
He says Democrats are trying to come up with a way to increase the state’s gas tax by adding it to the state budget, forcing the Senate to vote on it. The Senate refused to vote on the House’s roads plan, which included a gas tax increase, during the regular session.
If the plan to spend $150 million on roads does become reality, the counties would split it using the following formula: one-third based on the ratio of the land area of the county compared to the land area of the state; one-third based on the ratio of the county’s population compared to the state’s; and one-third based on the ratio of rural road mileage in the county compared to the road mileage in the state.
Greenville County would get the most money, $8,650,000, which would pave about 34.6 miles. Spartanburg would get $6,750,000, which would pave 27 miles. Anderson County would get $5,225,000, which would pave almost 21 miles.
Horry County would get $7,325,000, which would fix 29.3 miles of roads. Charleston County would get $6,350,000, which would fix 25.4 miles.