South Carolina Treasurer Curtis Loftis on Wednesday accused Governor Nikki Haley of playing politics in an ongoing dispute over budget problems at the state Department of Transportation (SCDOT).
Tuesday’s five-member Budget and Control Board meeting ended in a feud between the governor and treasurer. The two disagreed over the need for a new extended line of credit to pay private contractors working on road projects for SCDOT.
A story by the Charleston Post & Courier this week revealed that the agency was struggling to pay its contractors on time, in some cases stretching 30-day payments into 45 days. The agency is also more than two months behind on its payments to the State Infrastructure Bank for loans on major construction projects.
Loftis told WRHI in Rock Hill the money is available in the state Treasurer’s Office — and it’s simply an issue of one state agency loaning money to another. “The Treasurer’s Office is sitting on a billion dollars of cash,” he said, “It’s very easy for us to give them $50 million and get paid back over a few months. It’s just a cash-flow issue.”
But any interagency loans must be approved by the Governor. Loftis contends any such transfers have now become a political issue. He brought up the loans in the board meeting Tuesday, but Haley shut him down, saying Loftis was speaking out of turn by bringing up an issue that was not on the agenda. Haley, as chairwoman, did not allow it to be discussed.
“The Governor doesn’t want to be seen as borrowing money,” Loftis told WRHI, “Even if it’s borrowing money from ourselves. And I’m just adamant that if you work for the state of South Carolina… laying concrete, fixing bridges, putting in signs, driving the dump truck, you ought to get paid.”
Haley said she was working with her Transportation Secretary Robert St. Onge to fix the problem. “Any sort of delay in paying the contractors is unacceptable and General Bob knows that,” she told reporters after the meeting. She said a loan is not necessary.
Andrew Kiel of Rock Hill station WRHI contributed to this article