Democratic candidate for governor Vincent Sheheen said Tuesday that he does not think South Carolina should increase its gas tax to pay for badly-needed road repairs. Instead he is pushing a plan that would borrow up to $1 billion and redirect millions more from elsewhere in the state budget.
Sheheen released his plan to improve South Carolina roads on Tuesday, basing it partly off recommendations he previously made in his book “The Right Way.” The proposal calls for the state to issue up to $1 billion in bonds to pay for immediate work. It also calls on the legislature to dedicate five percent of the general fund budget on top of the approximately $500 million it collects in gas tax revenue each year. Sheheen said he also wants state officials to consider other means to expand funding, including possible tolls to repair and widen Interstate 95, or a new tax on out-of-state trucks that travel South Carolina highways.
But he rejected any increase to South Carolina’s lowest-in-the-nation 17-cent fuel tax. “The gas tax is a declining source of revenue,” he told reporters, adding that vehicles are becoming more fuel-efficient. “It’s why we’re in the mess we’re in now, because we solely rely on it. If all we do is rely on the gas tax, we’ll be right back having this discussion five years from now (or) ten years from now.”
Sheheen is challenging Republican Gov. Nikki Haley, who has previously said she will propose a plan to increase road funding when state legislators return in January.