The state House approved a measure to reform the Transportation Department, 113-6 on Wednesday.
The amendment stripped from a Senate-passed plan $400 million annually in general fund revenues targeted for roads repairs.
Rep. Gary Simrill, R-Rock Hill, said the Senate funding plan would hamstring the budget because it required setting aside road funding first and funding for other critical budget items (like education) second if and when the state hits an economic downturn.
The House included in its budget $415 million for SCDOT and county governments for road improvements.
“I can tell you that painstakingly we looked for every opportunity to concur” with the Senate plan, said Rep. Gary Simrill, who heads a special transportation committee.
“The pathway to concurrence is filled with potholes,” he said.
Proponents of the amendment say they will seek a permanent funding stream in 2017.
In line with the Senate plan, the House amendment lets the governor appoint the SCDOT Commission. But it expands the bill to include advice and consent by the entire General Assembly.
The House plan also leaves the State Infrastructure Bank intact, but makes the controversial bank accountable to the commission.
Republican Gov. Nikki Haley on Tuesday chided the House on social media saying—
“Since the Senate passed a roads bill weeks ago, the House has known they either work with the Senate, pass real, good reform, or the bill dies. Today we learned House leadership has chosen to pass an amendment they know has zero chance of becoming law. That’s a terrible shame, and every South Carolinian should know that tomorrow, the Republican House of Representatives plans to kill two years of work and that as a result, there will be no change in their road conditions anytime soon.”
Now before the Senate, the bill is expected to go to conference committee, where opponents—including Haley—expect it to die.
“The House amend to the Roads bill would make each DOT commissioner beholden to every single legislator. Sure to kill the bill. Unreal,” she wrote Wednesday on Twitter just before the House passed its plan.