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Fix Roads, Limit Government Growth

We have a historic opportunity to achieve three important priorities for the people of South Carolina in the closing weeks of this legislative year.  My Republican colleagues and I have developed a landmark plan to fix our roads, reform the Department of Transportation, and pass one of the largest personal income tax cuts in state history.  Most importantly, our comprehensive plan means that the overall tax burden on our citizens is substantially reduced!

As conservatives, we are always focused on controlling the growth of government and when our state’s revenue is on track to grow significantly we know it is essential to return some of that growth to those responsible for it.  Our plan cuts income taxes for every South Carolina taxpayer.  It returns over $700,000,000 to the citizens in the first five years alone.  The average taxpayer will see their personal state income taxes cut by 17%.  This is one of the largest across-the-board tax cuts in our state’s history.  It will help empower our people and control government spending for years to come.

With a solid plan to control the growth of government firmly established, we can confidently address the central issue before the General Assembly this year: fixing our roads and bridges. The roads of our state, especially the local roads our families travel daily, are in serious need of repair.  We can no longer get by with “Band-Aid” patching.  We need real and lasting action and lots of it.  Our plan requires that all of the new money must be used where we really need it: road and bridge maintenance. No bike paths. No light rail. No new corps of state highway bureaucrats. When fully implemented, the plan will devote approximately $700,000,000 annually to roads and bridges across South Carolina.  This will make our roads safer, improve our quality of life, and upgrades our economic competitiveness to keep our economy growing.

Our plan to pay for the road work is well-balanced drawing from several transportation based user fees and will be phased in over five years.  The gas tax is the backbone of the funding plan.  We chose that tax because approximately 35% of all gas taxes are paid by out of state motorists.  That means we are reducing the burden on our citizens and spreading the costs of taking care of our roads to all drivers who travel across our state.  Overall the gas tax will raise twelve cents over 5 years, but we also make sure that our taxes stay below Georgia and North Carolina.  Our balanced approach shares the burden fairly and keeps our state competitive.

I also know that a modern road system needs an accountable government to operate it effectively and efficiently.  Like our roads, the Department of Transportation (SCDOT) is in need of serious attention.  Our plan restructures the SCDOT Commission to improve performance and accountability.  The selection of the Commission will be based on each congressional district having one seat, plus one at-large seat. District commissioners will be rotated within the counties of a district so that small and large counties will have an opportunity to be represented.  Each commissioner will serve one six year term.  The governor will nominate each new commissioner. All nominees must be screened by the Joint Transportation Review Committee using objective criteria.  If a nominee is found qualified to be a commissioner, he must then be confirmed by the Senate. The Secretary of the DOT will be hired by the Commission.  The Secretary will be screened by the Senate Transportation Committee and confirmed by the full Senate.

In addition to establishing a better governing structure, our plan reforms the duties and responsibilities of the Commission so that the Commission is focused on long term planning and blocks commissioners from “cherry picking” projects and micromanaging the department.  This new plan assures competent leadership and reduces political interference in the operation of the SCDOT.

I am proud to support this historic infrastructure improvement, tax reduction and Department of Transportation reform plan.  It provides much needed long-term, dedicated funding to fix our ailing road system, establishes permanent across-the-board income tax cuts, and restructures the SCDOT Commission to improve performance and accountability.  Most importantly, it makes South Carolina more competitive, reduces the growth of government spending, and the people of South Carolina receive a net decrease in their taxes.  I hope you will support our effort to pass this initiative this year.

Filed in: Economic Development, Leadership, Roads & Infrastructure, Uncategorized Tags: ,

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© 2017 Senator Sean M. Bennett. All rights reserved.