With the General Assembly set to begin session in less than a month, the most recent Winthrop University poll shows South Carolina voters continue to overwhelmingly support decisive action to fix the state’s crumbling infrastructure.
The House acted responsibly last year and passed a road-funding plan; however, the plan struck a roadblock in the senate where it was filibustered by Senator Tom Davis (R – Beaufort) during the final weeks of session. The bill is currently set for special order in the senate and is expected to be the top priority when the General Assembly returns to work on Jan. 12.
“The most recent poll numbers come as no surprise to us,” said Bill Ross, Executive Director of SCFOR. “We see public support increasing every day for action on a comprehensive bill that will fix and improve our roads and bridges.”
Despite additional surplus money in the state budget, according to the Winthrop University poll, 61 percent of voters would support an increase in South Carolina’s gas tax if the money was to be used for repairing roads and transportation infrastructure. South Carolina voters understand the common sense behind this funding mechanism. With South Carolina’s motor fuel user fee being the lowest in the Southeast and the third lowest in the nation, in addition to out-of-state motorists paying a third of the fee, it makes sense for the ones who use the roads to pay for them.
The South Carolina state highway system is the fourth largest in the nation and the SCDOT’s primary state revenue source (the motor fuel user fee) has not been increased since 1987. Essentially, when adjusted for inflation, SCDOT’s budget has not increased since 2005. Without additional recurring revenues, SCDOT can only manage the continued decline of our transportation system.
“61 percent of voters support an increase in South Carolina’s motor fuel user fee, which is an increase of six points from the March poll that showed 55 percent of voters support an increase,” said Ross. “We have seen that energy since we began our online campaign and as we talk to people across the state.”
The cost of inaction is real. According to the recently released TRIP report, crumbling roads and bridges are costing drivers about $3 billion annually due to extra operation costs, lost time and wasted fuel from traffic congestion and crashes. Columbia is estimated to have the highest cost for residents at $1,250 a year per driver, followed by the Upstate, which averaged $1,248 annually. Charleston residents face and average $1,168 in the costs.
“The General Assembly must put politics aside and work together to pass a bipartisan bill that is essential to economic growth and quality of life in South Carolina,” said Ross.