AASHTO Journal, 10 June 2016
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley signed into law a 10-year measure that allows the state to redirect $212 million in existing fees to support $2.2 billion in new infrastructure bond debt for major projects by the state Department of Transportation.
The legislation also reforms how members will be selected for the SCDOT’s oversight commission, to give the governor the power to choose all eight commissioners while legislators will approve them in a multistep process. The new law also specifies that the commissioner will appoint the transportation secretary.
Haley reportedly criticized the reform portion of the measure in a signing statement, saying “the process for confirmation and removal of commissioners is deeply flawed.”
The Post and Courier reported that Haley said she only signed the measure because “it is a better option than what we will have without this bill.”
While the measure redirects enough state funds to support interest payments on about $2.2 billion in bonds for the next 10 years, Transportation Secretary Christy Hall has been reported saying it will also let her agency free up another $2 billion in funds, for a total impact of more than $4 billion.
However, in a statement after Haley signed the bill, the SCDOT said while this measure “is a good first step on highway funding, it is not a long-term or complete solution for addressing the infrastructure needs of South Carolina. The state is at a critical point where additional and rapid growth is putting extreme demands on a transportation system that is far from being in good condition.”
In that same statement, Hall said her SCDOT has been preparing for passage and how to use the money.
“While we wait for the new funding to begin to accumulate over the next year or so,” Hall said, “we have already started the process of outlining a plan to deliver the complex interstate and bridge projects over the next decade.”