Raising Fines and Fees for the Highway Fund
House members have introduced a number of bills that seek to increase funding for infrastructure by either raising or implementing new fines, fees, and taxes. H.3004 and H.3065 both require that non-farm utility trailers be registered and that the registration fees be credited to the State Highway Fund. H.3061 adds a $250 fee to any conviction of a traffic offense assigned a value of six points, as well as several other offenses (DUI and driving on a suspended license), all these new funds are to be credited to the State Non-Federal Aid Highway Fund. H.3064 increases the maximum amount of sales tax that may be collected from the sale of a motor vehicle from $300 to $750. The new revenues generated by this tax increase would be credited to the State Non-Federal Aid Highway Fund. Finally, H.3066 and H.3572 would each increase fees associated with golf carts. H.3066 would increase golf cart permit and registration fees from $5 to $50, with $45 of the fee being credited to the State Non-Federal Aid Highway Fund. And H.3572 would increase the permit fee required to operate a golf cart on a public road or highway from $5 to $25.
All of these proposals would raise revenue for the transportation department, but it’s unlikely they would have any significant effect on the quality of South Carolina roads. Simply increasing funding is not a long term solution to South Carolina’s infrastructure woes. Until the legislature addresses the States misplaced transportation priorities, and the unaccountable governing structure of the Department of Transportation, increasing road funding will be akin to pouring more water into a bucket with a hole in the bottom.