Group rallies for Government Reform at the Statehouse
COLUMBIA, SC (WACH) -- The legislative session ended last Thursay with no state budget and no plan to pay for the state's crumbling roads and bridges.
The Department of Transportation estimates the agency needs more than a billion dollars a year over the next 25 years to get the roads to what could be considered 'good' condition.
Monday, several groups rallied at the statehouse saying that number is merely a guess. They're pitching a plan to reform government before another penny goes into the system. The coalition is pushing a long list of objectives they would like to see carried out so the state's transportation system can be fixed.
"Before we talk about putting money into the system, we have to look at the system," said Ashley Landess, President of the South Carolina Policy Council. She represented one of five groups at a news conference Wednesday, pushing for government reform.
Landess added "We cannot possibly determine the future until we take a look right now at where the money is being spent."
"Almost all of that money is going toward new projects. It's not going into repairs and maintenance," said Republican Senator Tom Davis.
Davis filibustered a road funding plan for weeks to prevent a gas tax hike. He says there's been a 54-percent increase in transportation funding over the last seven years, so a tax increase isn't necessary.
"We've seen on an annual basis there's been a huge increase in the amount of dollars pumped into the system. What we haven't seen are the outputs. We haven't seen the results," said Davis.
The coalition wants to streamline government by eliminating the D-O-T Commission and give the Governor the power to appoint the D-O-T Secretary with the consent of the Senate.
"It is structured carefully and deliberately to accomodate political influence," said Dana Beach with the Coastal Conservative League.
Davis said "This system is designed in such a way to give certain legislators influence."
After reform, their plan is to reapropriate the money that is currently going to the areas they want eliminated.
"This is really about reforming the system. Reforming Government to make it more accountable, to make it more efficient and to bring folks into the process that currently feel left out," said David Schwartz with Americans for Prosperity.
The General Assembly has a three day special session next week so they can finish off debate on several key issues that weren't accomplished during the regular session. One of those items is a state budget and another is reviewing a plan that would repair existing roads.
The House and Senate have different proposals for funneling more than 100 million dollars into county roads over the next six months.