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Just before 11 o’clock last night, the S.C. Senate finally voted to fund our roads.
The veto-proof 33-10 vote came after two weeks of debate and a second roller-coaster day at the State House that included a late night cloture vote to end filibuster.
The final package will generate $640 million per year for road maintenance, widening and safety improvements when fully implemented. It includes some modest tax credit changes and tweaks DOT governance. The entire Tri-County legislative delegation voted to approve the measure. We thank our entire Senate delegation for their hard work, each one showed great leadership and helped work toward a compromise.
After 3 years of fighting for roads funding, yesterday’s vote is a huge step forward for the South Carolina business community. Your Chamber Lobbyist George Ramsey, along with counterparts from the Greenville Chamber, S.C. State Chamber, South Carolina Trucking Association, South Carolina Alliance to Fix our Roads and other business organizations, have worked tirelessly to help shepherd this bill through. And the broader business community statewide has applied consistent, vocal pressure to keep lawmakers working.
Today is a great day, but it’s too early to celebrate yet.
The Senate approved third reading early this morning and the bill will now go back to the House. There they can amend the bill to its original form or concur with the Senate’s amendments. The House isn’t likely to approve of the Senate amendments. That means we’re looking at a conference committee with three House members and three Senators where they can amend the bill using only the language of the House and Senate versions. Once a compromise is reached, both the House and Senate will need to approve the conference report.
From there the bill goes to the Governor’s desk where a veto is expected. If that happens, the House first will have to override the veto by a two-third vote and then the Senate will need to follow suit for the legislation to become law.
What’s in the Bill
Here are the highlights:
- The motor fuel user fee will be raised 2 cents per year for 6 years
- Other fees are also increased such as drivers licenses, hybrid and electric vehicles, vehicle sales tax
- Increased tuition tax credits for both four year and technical schools to $1500
- Creates a large earned income tax credit
- Decreases the industrial property tax rate from 10.5% to 8.5%
- Holds donor counties harmless with CTC funding
- Creates a tax credit for South Carolina residents when you file your taxes for gas purchases and auto repairs (it’s complicated)
Is this legislation perfect? No… but when you have to reach a compromise among 44 strong personalities, it’s rare that everyone will be completely happy. At the end of the day, this package goes a long way toward getting our infrastructure funded at the level we need.
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