McMaster Asks for $5 Billion; Subcommittee Passes Roads Bill

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WSPA)—A South Carolina House subcommittee unanimously passed a roads bill Tuesday morning, after Gov. Henry McMaster sent a letter to President Donald Trump asking for $5 billion in federal money for roads.

“I applaud Gov. McMaster on requesting the funding, realizing that South Carolina has been a donor state for years,” says Rep. Gary Simrill, R-Rock Hill, main sponsor of the House roads bill that passed. “South Carolina, though, cannot wait on the federal government to take care of our problems. If the federal government steps in, that is a welcome and added bonus, but it does not take away from what we are trying to do now in creating not only a safety plan but a reliable, sustainable resource for economic development and road preservation in South Carolina.”

The House plan includes raising the state’s 16.75-cents-a-gallon gas tax, which is second-lowest in the nation, by a total of ten cents a gallon. The gas tax, or roads user fee, would go up two cents a gallon for five years. Lawmakers say that increase would cost the average driver about $60 more a year for gas, but that same driver is already losing more than $1,000 a year to road damage to their vehicles.

The House bill would also raise the current sales tax limit on vehicles from the current $300 to $500. It would add a new title fee of $250 for people who move into South Carolina from other states, raise the registration fee you pay every two years by $16, and add a new fee for hybrid and electric vehicles.

The bill would raise about $600 million a year, which is short of the $1 billion a year in additional money the SCDOT says it needs to bring state roads and bridges up to good condition.

The bill now goes to the full House Ways and Means Committee.