EASLEY — S.C. Lt. Gov. Kevin Bryant made a trip to the Upstate on Thursday to lend his support for Sen. Tom Davis who was invited to speak at a Town Hall meeting sponsored by the Pickens County GOP.
For Bryant, making a stopover in the Upstate isn’t all that odd. After all, he was the Anderson Senator until being bumped up earlier this year. Davis, on the other hand, is a long way from his home base down in Beaufort, giving extra credence to the notion he is seriously contemplating a run for governor.
Among topics discussed was the recent shooting of Rep. Steve Scalise and others at the Congressional baseball practice, medical marijuana and the controversial roads bill gas tax that survived the governor’s veto earlier this year.
“I don’t want California, I don’t want Colorado — that’s not South Carolina and I realize we’re a conservative state,” said Davis on the possibility of a medical marijuana bill coming this year. “What I want is a very regulated, tight, controlled market where doctors are the gatekeepers of distributing the medicine to those out there who need it.”
Meeting attendees seemed convinced and loudly applauded.
When it came to the gas tax, Davis refused to stray from his platform and insisted that the premise of “insufficient funding” as the primary reason for roads and bridges being in poor repair was ridiculous.
“Did you know that the total annual spending for our transportation infrastructure in 2009 — my first year in the state Senate — was $1.051 billion,” said Davis. “In the 2016 budget, it was $1.9 billion.”
Davis stated that despite increases in spending, S.C.’s infrastructure remains in poor condition because spending decisions are made by a politically motivated and legislatively controlled state agency.
“Instead of debating ways to take more money from taxpayers, the Legislature should focus on structural reforms to the SCDOT,” he said.
Davis, who previously had held up the bill by speaking for five hours straight on the Senate floor, insists it should be the governor who appoints all SCDOT commissioners to establish “a clear line of accountability for expenditure decisions.”
“Better still, abolish the commission and have had expenditure decisions made by a cabinet-level Secretary of Transportation, appointed by and directly accountable to the governor,” he continued. “That way the voters can hold an elected official directly accountable for the wise or unwise spending of their money.”
Davis is expected to decide by Labor Day whether he will throw his hat officially into the governor’s race.
“At the risk of sounding immodest, I could not have been more pleased with our Town Hall tonight with Sen. Tom Davis and special guest Lt. Gov. Kevin Bryant,” said Rick Tate, chairman of the Pickens County GOP. “A wonderful turnout packed the room tonight to hear from the leading conservative senator in South Carolina government. Sen. Davis did not disappoint.”
Reach Kasie Strickland at 864-855-0355.