Good Question: How can you track gas tax, road funding plan money?
COLUMBIA, SC (WACH) - If you ever wonder how much money that recently-enacted gas tax and road funding plan is generating, you won't have to wonder for much longer.
On July 1, South Carolina's gas tax went up for the first time in 30 years as part of a plan to help bankroll road and infrastructure improvements in the state.
The revenue generated by the road-funding law, which raised the gas tax, vehicle registration costs and other fees, will soon be available online.
South Carolina Comptroller General Richard Eckstrom says his office has worked on developing procedures to track those revenues and post how they're being spent.
"There are a lot of people who don't follow legislation like we do. We work with it every day," Eckstrom said. "I think it would be a mistake to assume that because we know all about it, the public will know all about it. So we're making it known."
The gas tax will now go up two cents a year, bringing it to 28 cents a gallon by 2022. It's all part of the road-repair bill state lawmakers passed this spring to raise approximately $600 million a year to fix South Carolina's struggling road system.
Eckstrom expects to begin posting monthly, itemized reports within the next couple of weeks on the state's Fiscal Transparency website.
The Comptroller General unveiled the state's Fiscal Transparency website in 2008, providing monthly itemized check registers of spending by each state agency.
The gas tax/road funding plan project is just the latest part of that initiative.
"The public was told the revenue was going to go into maintaining roads. So we want the public to be assured that where your money is going as a result of these tax and fee increases is, in fact, where it goes," Eckstrom said.
Tracking how much money is generated by the new road funding law, and how that money is then spent by the Department of Transportation was not part of the road-funding plan lawmakers passed in the spring.
Eckstrom says it's vital for that process to be as transparent as possible. Funds from his office's existing budget will be used to set up the project online.
“The more sets of eyes viewing these expenditures, the better," Eckstrom said. "We just think it's the proper thing to do to let citizens see how the tax money is being spent."
This week, the Department of Transportation also unveiled a new website where people can view road projects that have been enabled by the road funding plan.