Setzler: Addressing infrastructure is critical to the future of economic development in South Carolina
December 3, 2014
West Columbia, SC- Today, South Carolina Senate Minority Leader Nikki Setzler says he will pre-file legislation to establish an interstate lane expansion fund in South Carolina.
South Carolina's interstates are the critical means of transporting goods between South Carolina's major cities and the Port of Charleston. According to information provided by the S.C. Department of Transportation, today's system, traveled by over 70,000 vehicles per day, is over 50 years old. The Department projects that by 2040 65% of the system will operate at a grade "C" or worse.
"The interstate system of this state has to be a top priority for the 2015 legislative session, and we can no longer delay addressing its inadequacy for economic development purposes", says Setzler. "While interstates impact all of us directly; they have an even greater impact on the future of economic development in South Carolina."
The legislation establishes an Interstate Lane Expansion Fund in the State Infrastructure Bank that requires the General Assembly to annually appropriate an amount equal to the general fund portion of the sales tax on cars, as estimated by the Board of Economic Advisors, to the Fund. (For FY 14/15 the estimate is $59 million). It provides that the fund be solely used to finance, through the issuance of revenue bonds, interstate widening for interstates existing as of July 1, 2015. (Not for new interstate construction). It also provides that the Bank Board may request the assistance or recommendations from DOT, but the Board is not bound by the recommendations of DOT. The ability to use funds to pay debt service on bonds issued by the State Infrastructure Bank will enable the State to move quickly to expand lanes on interstates.
"If we are serious about job recruitment, commerce and improving the quality of life for all South Carolinians, we will move this piece of legislation forward because at the end of the day this about making South Carolina the best place to live, work, and raise a family. I am looking forward to working with my friends and colleagues on both sides of the aisle and across the hall to have a serious discussion and pass this legislation", added Setzler.