A plan to phase in a 12-cents-a-gallon gas tax increase over six years has been approved by the General Assembly.
That bill now heads to Gov. Henry McMaster’s desk, where he has threatened to veto it. Lawmakers are expected to override the Richland County Republican’s veto.
House members passed the plan—a House-Senate compromise—99 to 20 on Tuesday, one day after the Senate passed it 32 to 12.
A coalition of roads groups took to social media just minutes after the House passed the bill. The South Carolina Alliance to Fix our Roads shared a letter on Twitter urging McMaster to approve the bill. That letter boasted roughly two dozen signatures from leaders of engineering, asphalt, manufacturing and other groups.
Included in the compromise are—
-A provision to let the governor appoint and remove nine members—up from eight—to the Transportation Department’s commission, subject to approval by the General Assembly. Currently the governor has only one appointment to the commission.
-A plan to reserve the increased revenue—$625 million annually upon full implementation—in an account earmarked for repairs to existing infrastructure. A small group of senators blocking the bill expressed concerns on Monday that the new funding could be hijacked and sent to a separate roads agency for building new roads. Rep. Gary Simrill, R-Rock Hill, said the funds could be used exclusively for repairs to the existing transportation system.
-A repeal of a 2013 law that requires the SCDOT to send $50 million annually to the State Transportation Infrastructure Bank.
-Increased fees, including a bump in the $300 car sales tax cap up to $500; a $250 fee for out-of-state drivers relocating to and registering a vehicle in South Carolina; biennial fees of up to $120 for hybrid and electric vehicles.
-A measure of tax relief set to sunset after full implementation in year six. Drivers who can prove they improved or maintained their vehicle may recoup some of their gas tax expenses if they save their receipts. A number of other tax credits are also part of the package.