Desperate to get a roads plan passed with just a little over three weeks remaining in the regular Statehouse session, Senate Republicans floated a proposal they said would raise more money for road work, but also provide some income tax relief and change how the state’s transportation agency is governed.
The plan revealed by Majority Leader Harvey Peeler, R-Cherokee, on Thursday morning tries to merge what are currently competing efforts on the Senate floor. The proposal passed by an alliance of Democrats and moderate Republicans on the Senate Finance Committee last week would raise the state’s 17 cents per-gallon to 29 cents over a period of years. But the governor (and a majority of Senate Republicans) want an income tax cut to offset the additional money that customers would be paying at the pump.
Those conservatives say they also want a revamp in the commission that approves new construction projects around South Carolina. The Transportation Commission is chosen now by legislators from each of the state’s seven congressional districts, with the governor getting an eighth pick. But the GOP plan offered Thursday would change that to the governor picking each commissioner, with the appointed commission then choosing the Department of Transportation’s next leader.