Greenville Chamber puts pressure on Senate to pass roads fix

credit: Greenville Chamber

GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA-TV) – The time to fix roads our state’s road is running out, so Upstate leaders are pushing lawmakers to do something fast before this year’s legislative session is over.

This is something the business community has been fighting for 3 years, adding that it’s less about the specifics of the fix, but advocating for something sustainable that moves us forward.

“We’re here for one purpose this morning,” said Greenville Chamber President, Carlos Phillips.

Joined by a cross section of upstate business and civic leaders, Friday, Phillips threw down the gauntlet; a roads fix must happen and fast.

“It’s time for the talk to end and it’s time for our state senators to act,” Phillips said.

Business leaders say good infrastructure leads to economic investment, but despite the hundreds of millions invested in Greer’s inland port and upgrades to GSP International Airport, poor roads could lead companies to look elsewhere.

“We have to have the road infrastructure to get people there,” said John Lummus, Upstate SC Alliance President and CEO.

This week, the full Senate debated their roads bill that would raise the gas tax by 12 cents over 6 years. A similar House bill passed last month with a veto proof majority.

There’s been much back and forth over the bill’s merits.

This week, the Senate voted against an amendment that would have cut income taxes and manufacturer’s property taxes, among other things.

Meanwhile, Governor Henry McMaster opposes the tax increase, vowing to veto a gas tax hike. He wants lawmakers to borrow up to one billion dollars to fix roads and bridges, but some House and Senate Republicans say it would be irresponsible to borrow money to pay for it.

“Good roads and also our state highway system is also a neighborhood issue,” said Greenville Mayor, Knox White.

White said, too often, lack of roads fixes fall back on the shoulders of local governments.

“It goes to quality of life, because many of the roads that we ride on every day are actually part of the state highway system,” said White.

County Chairman Butch Kirven said we’ve finally reached a solution that could easily be passed.

“What the house has done is they have teed the ball up perfectly for the Senate,” said Kirven. “All the Senate has to do, now, is take a nice easy swing and knock the ball down the fairway. Get this job done.”

Following the Senate’s debate on this issue this week, Senate Pro Temp, Hugh Leatherman, said they should come back next week expecting long days and nights until they can agree on a solution.

There’s just 9 legislative days left in this session.

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