The Senate Finance Committee completed its budget deliberations last week and have crafted a budget that will be up for debate on the floor next week.
Finance Committee Chairman, Senator Harvey Peeler (R-Cherokee), said during his opening remarks to the committee that he once heard, “If you want to know what’s important to someone, look at their checkbook.” He went on to tout the importance of the state budget Senators are beginning to take up.
When it comes to roads and bridges, there was very little the Finance Committee agreed with when it came to allocations included in the House-passed version of the budget.
The committee maintained the $8 million ($6 non-recurring/$2 million recurring) allocation to SCDOT for non-interstate litter pickup efforts, but that’s all. Senators allocated $1 to the SCDOT for the bridge program, $1 to the County Transportation Committees (CTCs), and earmarked approximately $43 million for individual projects.
While these $1 allocations signal Senators are not on board with funding statewide bridge repairs or county programs at the moment, the good news is that these items are not entirely off the table for consideration. One dollar keeps these programs as line items for ongoing budget negotiations – whether on the Senate floor or in a conference committee with House members at a later date.
We wholeheartedly agree with Chairman Peeler’s statement that what you spend money on shows what is important. Because of this, we encourage Senators to support investments to help tackle aging bridges and boost funds for local projects in all 46 counties through CTC programs.
Thanks to the legislature’s investments in 2022, the state has been able to move projects in the pipeline forward (sooner than they would have otherwise) and is well-positioned to take advantage of federal dollars. This year, legislators can maintain momentum by investing in local programs and, most importantly, aiding in tackling repairs and replacements to our aging bridge infrastructure.
The Senate will begin budget deliberations on the floor next week. SCFOR will continue to track, so stay tuned!