Road funds pursued in South Carolina

| 2/17/2005

A South Carolina state lawmaker has introduced a measure that would divert existing road-related taxes and fees to a highway maintenance fund.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Bobby Harrell, R-Charleston, would raise about $90 million by 2010 to fix state highways, which transportation officials say are in a maintenance crisis.

The money – including driver’s license and vehicle registration fees – now pays for general state activities.

A shortage of funds forced the South Carolina Department of Transportation four years ago to stop resurfacing secondary highways. The state has a $560 million annual shortfall for maintenance, The State newspaper reported.

Currently, the source of transportation funds is almost entirely the state’s 16-cents-per-gallon fuel tax, which is among the lowest in the nation. The tax rate was last changed in 1989.

Harrell said he wants to try the maintenance trust fund before raising taxes or fees.

H3296 is in the House Ways and Means Committee.