When the S.C. Department of Transportation (SCDOT) ran out of money last summer Gov. Nikki Haley asked for – and received – a federal bailout.

That’s right … the “Tea Party governor” (who only six weeks earlier signed off on the biggest budget in state history) went running to the administration of Barack Obama when things got rough rather than insisting that the agency prioritize its projects.

Such is the wafer thinness of Haley’s commitment to the taxpayer, and such is the power of the Interstate 73 lobby … which continues to push for this costly boondoggle despite its obvious demerits and the fact that the same objective could be accomplished for half the price.

Anyway, now might be a good time for Haley’s SCDOT to get its act together because it’s looking increasingly as though federal bailouts will not be an option for Haley moving forward. According to a new report from the Congressional Budget Office, the nation’s highway trust fund will be broke within the next two years – meaning that if SCDOT goes broke again, Obama won’t be there to bail Haley out.

Plan accordingly, Trikki … plan accordingly.

Haley has argued that the SCDOT should be placed exclusively under her authority. We agree … although unfortunately Haley’s corruption and incompetence continues to blunt momentum for this needed structural reform.

And her appointee to lead this agency clearly has no respect for taxpayers (or numerous contractors who got stiffed last summer).

If Haley were serious about reforming SCDOT, she would appoint commissioner Sarah Nuckles – one of our 2011 taxpayer heroes – to manage the troubled agency.