Will Lawmakers Raise the Gas Tax in 2017?
LAST YEAR, THE PROBLEM WAS STRUCTURAL RATHER THAN MONETARY. IT STILL IS.
Over the past several weeks there has been considerable public speculation that Gov. Nikki Haley’s successor may support a gas tax increase. Given calls to raise the gas tax from editorial boards, Department of Transportation officials, and state lawmakers, it’s fair to assume that the 2017 legislative session will include debate – for the third year in a row – on the alleged need for more revenue to pay for roads.
As in years past, though, lawmakers still haven’t proven this to be a revenue problem. Indeed, a far better argument can be made that existing infrastructure money is spent badly, and that the road funding system should be made accountable to taxpayers before politicians breathe another word about tax hikes.
Last year’s roads bill, passed by the General Assembly and signed by the governor, came nowhere near accomplishing the kind of accountability needed to fix the problem. Indeed, in some ways it made the problem worse by further blurring lines of accountability from the Department of Transportation commission. The new law also leaves the State Transportation Infrastructure in place, ensuring that repair and maintenance money will continue to go to unnecessary projects in politically important counties.
In short: revenue isn’t the problem – accountability is. We explain why in clear, no-nonsense language in our roads report here.