The South Carolina House Ways and Means Committee voted Monday on a plan for spending the state’s $300 million budget surplus, with much of it going toward roads. $150 million would go back to counties to repair or resurface roads and bridges, while another $70 million would go to the state Department of Commerce to use for road projects.
The $150 million is one-time money from state tax collections being higher than expected. “Since it’s not gas tax money, it’s one-time dollars we’re sending back, and we’ve got a bad problem with our secondary state roads in your counties, that money’s going to be totally used on secondary state roads within your counties, for bridges, resurfacing, repairs, whatever you need,” Rep. Brian White, R-Anderson, chairman of the committee told members.
Rob Taylor of Columbia says that’s good news. Even though he’s got a truck with big tires and high ground clearance, he says, “I just always have to dodge big potholes. And then every now and again you’ll see that one person who knows where the pothole is and is not paying attention, and then they end up switching lanes to try to miss the pothole and hit somebody.”
The Ways and Means plan for the surplus would also spend:
–$49.8 million for the Dept. of Health and Human Services for annualizations, like growth in Medicaid
–$23.5 million for state employee bonuses of $800
–$2.6 million toward a child support enforcement computer system at the Dept. of Social Services
–$16 million for job training and equipment
–$5 million for reading coaches in elementary schools
The plan still has to go to the full House and Senate. A plan to provide an ongoing source of more money for roads is stuck in the Senate. Sen. Tom Davis, R-Beaufort, is filibustering, saying there’s enough money in the current budget, including growth like the surplus, that raising the gas tax is not necessary.