06 Mar Roads, Retirement Reform, and REAL ID
Truth Alert: Roads!
After 30 years of lawmakers kicking the can down the road…
GREG DUCKWORTH REFORMED SCDOT TO BRING MORE OF OUR MONEY BACK FROM COLUMBIA.
• South Carolina has the lowest gas tax in the country but has the 4th largest state-maintained road system in the United States.
• For 30 years, there has been no sustainable system to maintain our roads. Instead, the politicians have been taking money from the state’s General Fund that is supposed to be used for things like education and public safety.Reforming the South Carolina Department of Transportation:
• Greg Duckworth led the fight to make our roads safer, and to reform the SCDOT to ensure that funds meant for our roads and bridges are being appropriately used.
• Because of Greg’s leadership, the SCDOT is now a cabinet appointed agency, meaning it is less politically motivated and more accountable for what gets done on our infrastructure in South Carolina.Much of the hard work “In Columbia” takes place right here in Horry County!
This past year I was invited to a series of meetings held with the residents of the Brooksville area in-district and also at the County Transportation Committee. As with much of our district, the favorable living conditions had lured many new residents to the area near the intersection of Highways 111& 57. So many, in fact, that navigating the intersection had become a source of worry.
Along with Senator Hembree, Councilman Worley, Chairman Vereen of the Horry County Transportation Committee and a host of residents and other officials we were able to find a way to bring much-needed improvements to the intersection. The funds (over a million dollars) have been appropriated and planning has been going on for some time. Construction is slated to start in October and should be finished in 2019.
Mr. Terry Huber from the LaFayette Park subdivision was instrumental in helping me with organizing his neighbors and disseminating my information to the people of Brooksville and conveying their concerns to myself and the other officials working on this project.
He shared his experience in the following video:
More good news comes in the way of paving existing roads including six miles of Hwy 9 and over seven miles of improvements to Hwy 90 scheduled this summer! To help keep everyone informed as to where the new gas tax money is going, SCDOT will have regular updates on their website. Below is the Horry County section of May’s Infrastructure Maintenance Trust Fund commitments.
As the User fees slowly increase over the next few years, South Carolina will maintain lower gas prices than neighboring states while building the Infrastructure Maintenance Trust Fund – Money that is not spent at the whim of politicians but dedicated to our roads, bridges and infrastructure. This is the start of South Carolina developing a long term solution to the very real problem caused by 30 years of not committing funds to our roads.
It’s not an overnight fix, but a pragmatic look at how we are having the people that use our roads help pay for their upkeep, including a significant number of out-of-state travelers and guests.
SCDOT also has a TEN YEAR PLAN of significant projects that can be programmed now that the amount of revenue can be predicted in a more stable manner.
<div class=”middle”>Original content for Mar 6 below:</div>
The 8th week of the legislative session was jam-packed with sweeping solutions to three major problems facing our state. In the House, we passed bills to fix SC’s dangerous and crumbling roads, give solvency to the state retirement system, and allow for compliance with federal ID card standards.
For years, the General Assembly has addressed infrastructure in piecemeal fashion and, because of politics, not actually providing long-term solutions, thus creating major safety concerns whilst eroding SC’s economic development opportunities. As you may already know, last Session, the House led the way by passing a bill containing a long-term approach to fixing our roads and bridges. Due to political pressure, the Senate was unable to pass a long-term funding plan. This past week, the House has again passed a sustainable and reliable plan that not only dramatically reforms the South Carolina Department of Transportation, but first focuses on curbing our highest-in-the-nation motorist fatality rate by repairing our most deadly roadways in rural areas. The bill is now in the Senate where we expect it will be amended in some manner and sent back to us for our further consideration.
Our roads are crumbling, but it’s no secret our state retirement system is also in need of immediate attention. Last Tuesday, my House colleagues and I passed a bipartisan measure to cap the rate paid by employees in the state retirement system, adjust the rate paid into the system by both employer and employee, and to inject sufficient funding into the current system to bring solvency to the struggling benefit plan. The market crash and recession of 2008 along with poor management contributed to the deficiencies we face today. Doing nothing and thereby not honoring promises made to employees is not an option. We believe it’s important to ensure our teachers, first responders, and public employees have a sound foundation for retirement. The Senate has amended and passed our House proposal, so expect another update as we progress further.
Finally, the House gave bipartisan support to a piece of legislation that would bring our state-issued ID cards (such as a driver’s license) into compliance with federally mandated security standards. You may have seen signs posted in the airport giving ample warning that later this year the TSA will no longer accept the current South Carolina driver’s license as an acceptable form of identification for boarding commercial aircraft. This bill makes sure that never happens and allows you and your family to travel. We’ve heard from some (who for valid personal reasons) did not wish to comply with the federal security minimums. This bill includes an opt-out clause allowing those residents to continue without penalty and without conforming to the REAL ID federal standards. Here is a website link for additional information pertaining to the new federal security standards:
Thank you for the privilege of serving you in Columbia. If I can ever be of assistance to you, or if you have ideas on issues you want me to share with the rest of the General Assembly, please don’t hesitate to contact me.