Columbia, SC (WLTX) - The Senate has once again started debate on a proposed roads bill. However, the South Carolina House of Representatives doesn’t think they are moving fast enough.
“We will refuse to play petty politics over policy as the Senate did last year,” says House Speaker Jay Lucas. “We refuse to mislead the people of South Carolina with a seemingly easy solution that will do nothing for our state roads.”
Speaker Lucas and members of the House stood firm in their vote of 97 to 18 for a roads bill that would include a 10 cent gas tax increase over the next five years.
In a press conference, House Minority Leader Todd Rutherford charged the Senate to act.
“These people standing here have listened to your cries, have seen what is going on and we have answered your calls by passing a bill that fixes the roads,” says Rutherford, D-Richland. “We're asking the Senate to do the same."
However, there is concern over the current bill, since it does not include either tax reform or department of transportation reform.
Senator Tom Davis, a Republican from Beaufort County, says he’ll continue to fight for reform.
“I'm looking forward to debating the bill and if the bill as it currently exists is simply a 75% gas tax increase and dumping it into the same politically corrupt system that we now have that spends that money,” says Senator Davis. “Yes, I am going to oppose it.”
Senator Vincent Sheheen (D-Kershaw County) says Senate Republicans are stalling
“They are once again trying to distract us from fixing our roads,” says Senator Sheheen. “They are going to bring up the boogey man of oh we need to have income tax cuts, oh we need to have sales tax cuts, oh we need to restructure state government. We're not going to get off the focus and the task at hand, which is fixing our roads.”
Despite the debate, Senate Majority Leader Shane Massey, R-Aiken County) says he expects a roads bill to pass.
“I know that we only have four weeks left, but we can get a lot done in that time,” says Sen. Massey. “I’m confident that we can get a vote and a strong vote.”
The Senate finished debate for the day and will continue to discussion on this bill throughout the week. The last day of session is May 11th.