Plans offered to pay for roads in South Carolina

| 12/4/2006

With funding for roads in South Carolina expected to be a priority for state lawmakers when they return to the capitol next year, two legislators have offered plans to help pay for roadwork.

Rep. B.R. Skelton, R-Pickens, said multiple options are worth considering. One option would be to increase the state's nearly 17-cent-per-gallon fuel tax another 5 cents. If that doesn't work out he suggested allowing the excise tax to change based on inflation, The Greenville News reported.

Another suggestion is to switch the fuel tax to a sales tax, which is automatically indexed.

Sen. Danny Verdin, R-Laurens, said he would rather have lawmakers divert $200 million a year from the state's general fund to the South Carolina Department of Transportation.

The likelihood of a tax increase is considered low because Gov. Mark Sanford opposes any tax increase from one source without a tax decrease from another source, The State newspaper reported.

A spokesman for the governor said Sanford agrees there are transportation needs in the state, but he won't support sending the department more money unless it is put under his control. SCDOT now is run by a group of six commissioners appointed by the Legislature. The House and Senate would have to approve any changes to the arrangement.