To the contrary

Raising SC’s gas tax is the last option

Special to The HeraldDecember 21, 2013 

LeTricia Parks pumps gas at the Petro Express on Cherry Road near Interstate 77 on Friday.

TRACY SMITH-KIMBALL &MIDDOT THE HERALD

After reading your recent editorial about paying for road repairs, I feel like a Democrat agreeing that we need to raise our taxes to fix our roads. Almost!

I do agree that we need to find more money to fix our roads and that York County already has taken the lead with the 1-cent sales tax for the Pennies for Progress program to improve our roads. The S.C. Department of Transportation maintains more than 41,620 miles of roads, and York County contains 2,078 miles of those.

The state tax is 16 cents a gallon, whereas the federal tax is 18 cents a gallon. South Carolina has a major problem with federal money that is given back to the state with attachments regarding how we spend our money. The DOT must use the 80-20 rule to repair county roads, which means that more than half our county roads get no federal money and are last to get fixed.

This year the Legislature did approve spending $500 million on bonds to fix our roads. But that will cost us $50 million a year to repay the bonds. Unfortunately the Legislature is still fighting about how to spend the money.

This year the state had a $913 million surplus and spent only $80 million extra on roads. Too bad, it could have spent more money on our roads, and we might be not having this conversation.

Every county in the state receives 2.6 cents per gallon from the state through C-funds]. If we were to raise the gas tax 3 cents a gallon and give that money to the county, York County would double its spending to repair roads.

You have to remember that motorists from surrounding states travel to South Carolina to fill up because of our lower price. York County is a winner. Let’s not kill the golden goose by raising prices beyond 3 cents a gallon. I believe the county knows better how to spend our money than the DOT.

I think the best way to fund or repair our roads is for the Legislature to make a hard choice, cut spending and use the savings to fix our roads. South Carolina continues to receive more money from taxes then they spend.

Find the money; it’s there. Giving more money to the DOT under the current structure will not fix our county roads. Raising the gas tax always should be the last option.

The Herald was correct about having a conversation about how to pay for our repairs. We need a plan that will not harm the taxpayers and, at the same time, fund our roads that need to be repaved or repaired. Let’s have more ideas, and let’s hear from our elected officials and others on this subject.

Paul Anderko is a resident of Rock Hill and leader of the GPS Conservatives for Action PAC.

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