Senators Put Off Debate on Roads Bill

Columbia, SC (WLTX) -- With only a few legislative days left in the session state senators have put off tackling the issue of roads in our state.

Wednesday, they decided not to take up a House bill that would put more money toward building and maintaining roads and bridges.

"This is a problem that effects every South Carolinian," said Richland County Sen. Joel Lourie.

A House bill proposes the remaining half of money collected from car sales taxes be used to maintain the state's infrastructure.

"We've been looking at every possible avenue trying to get more revenue into roads and bridges without raising taxes. Before anybody gets into the conversation about gas tax, we ought to make sure that every dollar that ought to be in road construction and maintenance is in road construction and maintenance," said House Speaker Bobby Harrell the bill's sponsor.

He says lawmakers devoted the first half of car sales tax to roads last year, but some like Lourie say the bill is a starting point, and more is needed.

"It's gonna take tough decisions and leadership. Nobody wants to talk about raising driver's license fees, about adjusting the gasoline tax or the user fee, or indexing it to inflation, but it's gonna take some tough decisions," he said.

Lourie expects senators will propose various amendments to the bill. He says truly addressing South Carolina's infrastructure needs would take about a billion dollars each year for the next 15 years, something that he says cannot be done by making changes to the state budget and cutting funding for other areas.

"We've really got to have a long term plan. We can't continue to try and just do it year in and year out. We've got to have a long-term plan, one that's comprehensive and thought out," said Lourie.

Now, as senators take up the roads debate, time runs out on the session and their ability to make a change.

"We're hoping very much that they get it done, and get it back over to us. We have five legislative days left so we're really at crunch time. We hope they get it done and get it back to us," said Harrell.


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