PICKENS COUNTY — Despite the “nay” votes of two state representatives from the Pickens County Delegation, drivers will face increases at the gas pumps for the next several years following the passage of House Bill 3516 — also known as the controversial “gas tax/roads bill.”
The bill passed both the House and the Senate after months of debate, revisions and amendments before landing on the desk of Gov. Henry McMaster, who had vowed to veto it.
“Right now, over one-fourth of your gas tax dollars are not used for road repairs,” said McMaster in explaining his veto. “They’re siphoned off for government agency overhead and programs that have nothing to do with roads. Then, much of what’s left is spent on the wrong roads – roads with almost no traffic.”
The Governor said had the S.C. Department of Transportation simply reformed how they spend tax dollars “to be responsible and accountable,” the tax would be unnecessary.
“We’d have plenty of money,” he said. “Unfortunately, raising taxes was the only solution seriously considered by the Legislature. Small businesses, young people, and seniors will get hit the hardest – many of them are barely making it now. And the system remains dysfunctional.
“South Carolina is a great place — and you deserve better than this,” he said.
While in most cases a veto is enough to sound the death knell for a bill, the House and Senate are currently enjoying majorities that make overturning the veto and keeping H 3516 alive almost a surety.
“The S.C. House voted 95-18 to override Gov. McMaster’s veto of the gas tax,” Rep. Neal Collins said on Wednesday. “S.C. Senate is the only thing standing between .02 tax increase on July 1 and every July for the next six years.”
Collins and Rep. Davey Hiott were among the few representatives who voted not to overturn the Governor’s veto.
“The House voted for the roads bill today 99-20. I was one of the 20 voting against,” said Collins. “In short, it will raise the gas tax 12 cents over six years and increase a number of fees, raising $630 million when implemented.”
Collins said while the bill doesn’t give cabinet-level reform to the S.C. Department of Transportation, it does improve the structure.
“However, the General Assembly will still be involved in DOT. As to tax cuts, from what I’ve gathered, it’s mainly for show with expected cuts to be less than $100 million and even those are sunset,” he said.
Collins said for him to have voted for the tax increases he needed cabinet-level reform or significant tax cuts.
“Despite disagreement, I do congratulate and thank the House leaders for their constant focus on the roads. I struggled with perfect being the enemy of the good but I couldn’t explain a vote knowing better was out there,” he said.
Reach Kasie Strickland at 864-855-0355.