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Legislature Passes FY19-20 Budget
The legislature returned this week to take care of unfinished business from the session, including the FY19-20 budget (H.4000).  The $9 billion budget passed both chambers Tuesday afternoon after a week of negotiations by the conference committee. The spending plan passed the House by a vote of 105-6 and the Senate 32-8. 

Provisions were included to set aside the $61 million state income tax windfall from the $1.5 billion Mega Millions lottery jackpot winner to pay a $50 rebate on each income tax return. (Some legislators believe that this money could have been spent elsewhere.)

Funding was included to help provide for the launch of a mobile statewide workforce development initiative to promote skilled trades training and employment in various industries ( i.e., construction, agriculture, forestry, trucking, and heavy equipment.) The initiative will be modeled after Arkansas’ “Be Pro Be Proud” campaign.   


As we anticipated, the I-95 tolling provisions were removed during the conference committee negotiations and were not included in the FY19-20 budget.

Legislators provided SCDOT with $4 million for rest area improvements. Provisions were also included to explicitly clarify that the CTCs receive their additional funding as prescribed in Act 40.  You may recall that Act 40 increased the CTC portion to 3.99 cents, which is phased in over four years (@ 0.3325 /year). The proviso states that the SCDOT is to pay this increase with new fuel tax revenues and requires that CTCs use the money on roads in the state system.


The budget has been sent to Governor Henry McMaster for his approval.  The Governor has line item veto authority; however, legislators expect few vetoes since they worked so closely with the Governor's office throughout the process.  Any vetoes are expected to be addressed in January.  
Panthers Ready for Move to SC
South Carolina is ready to offer the Carolina Panthers around $120 million in tax breaks to move practice fields and the team's headquarters to York County. 

Both the South Carolina House (88-18) and Senate (23-17) approved the final version of the Panthers Tax credit bill (H.4243) Monday after minor differences between the two chambers were worked out.  The compromise included the addition of increased tax credits for future businesses that move to South Carolina's poorest counties. Language was also included to prevent any other pro team from getting the tax credits after July 2022, when the Panthers are expected to finish their facility.

The Panthers plan to build a massive complex in York County that would include restaurants, hotels, entertainment, and a sports injury rehabilitation facility.  The new development will require a new I-77 interchange with an estimated cost of $40 million.  The funding for the interchange will not come from SCDOT but federal, state, and local sources. (The federal government is expected to chip in about $20 million, while the SC Department of Commerce pitches in $12.5 million and local government contributes $7.5 million.)


Governor Henry McMaster signed the bill into law on Wednesday afternoon.  
New Report Ranks SC #1 in Rural Road Fatalities
TRIP released a report on Wednesday which ranks SC #1 in rural road fatalities based on vehicle miles traveled. The headline serves as a stark reminder as to why rural road safety is a critical component of the state's long-term plan to repair South Carolina's roads.  This ranking is one that SC is all too familiar with – given SC took the same #1 spot in 2017. Here's a comparison of South Carolina's data for the 2019 and 2017 TRIP Reports. 
The report states that the higher traffic fatality rate found on rural non-Interstate routes is a result of multiple factors, including a lack of desirable roadway safety features, longer emergency vehicle response times, and the higher speeds traveled on rural roads compared to urban roads.

South Carolina has a long way to go to address our infrastructure woes. We must consider that this data does not take into account any of the programs implemented since the passage of Act 40. Perhaps by the time the next rural roads report is released by TRIP, Act 40 will have produced some quantifiable results that will help improve our overall rankings in this national report.
 
SCDOT Public Comment Notice for May

Proposed 2019 Updated Public Participation Plan
The SCDOT is providing notification that public review and comment is being sought on the proposed 2019 Updated Public Participation Plan (PPP). The PPP defines the public outreach process associated with the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) and the Statewide Multimodal Transportation Plan (SMTP). Details can be found here.
Industry & Lawmakers Pledge to Push Forward on Infrastructure
The May 22 meeting between President Donald Trump, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) on how to pay for the $2 trillion infrastructure proposal they discussed April 30 ended in acrimony amid impeachment politics and charges of bad faith by each side. However, transportation trade and industry groups vowed to continue pressuring Congress and the Trump administration for a comprehensive infrastructure bill during the current session. Members of Congress also pledged to continue working on surface transportation and broader infrastructure bills.

“Despite the break-up of today’s meeting, ARTBA will continue to work this issue so that our nation’s leaders pass infrastructure legislation in this session of Congress,” said ARTBA President and CEO Dave Bauer. Read his full statement.

Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said: “Despite the disappointing outcome of today’s meeting, I remain committed to working in a bipartisan manner to move our infrastructure into the 21st-century, because the cost of inaction is too great. Even if a transformative deal with the White House remains elusive in the near term, I will continue to use my position … to work with Republicans to move individual pieces of legislation that will make a difference, I will continue to work on a surface transportation reauthorization bill, and I will continue putting in the legwork to make improvements to our nation’s infrastructure that Americans expect and deserve.”

Click here to read the full article  written by John Schneidawind, vice president of public affairs, ARTBA.
Petition for Action on Federal Infrastructure Funding
The Americans for Transportation Mobility (ATM) Coalition brings together businesses, the labor and union sectors, transportation stakeholders, and the public to advocate a robust transportation infrastructure grid in the United States. The group has an ongoing petition to urge President Trump and Congress to work together to pass long-term funding and financing solutions that will help safeguard a better tomorrow for America.  If you have not signed the petition, we encourage you to do so today!  
Sign the Petition
2018 - 2019 Newsletter Archive
Copyright © 2019 South Carolina Alliance to Fix Our Roads, All rights reserved.


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