For the second time in five years, South Carolina’s “Republican-controlled” state government is proposing to “reform” the S.C. Department of Transportation (SCDOT).
But is that really what’s going to happen?
Not if things stay as they are …
While we credit GOP lawmakers – and S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley – for supporting needed structural changes at this agency, we fear the legislation that is currently being pushed through the S.C. General Assembly doesn’t go far enough. We also know for a fact that Haley’s appointee to lead this agency has been an unmitigated disaster (not to mention a pawn for our state’s corrupt status quo).
Giving him exclusive control over this agency – as opposed to nominating a real reformer like SCDOT commissioner Sarah Nuckles – is a recipe for disaster, although ultimately
Aside from its sprawling bureaucracy, SCDOT’s basic problem is that powerful political interests – not the public’s interests – are determining the appropriation of highway resources. Not surprisingly, the result is that money gets blown on totally unnecessary projects while roads and bridges fall into disrepair.
Will the legislation that’s been introduced by S.C. Rep. Jay Lucas (R-Hartsville) rectify this situation?
No … in addition to keeping South Carolina’s infrastructure funding splintered, Lucas’ legislation falls short on several other fronts. For example, it fails to close a loophole in the failed 2007 reform bill – which would permit the agency to continue flaunting objective prioritization standards. Meanwhile it fails to adopt a “fix it first” standard that would require SCDOT to address the state’s extensive repair backlog prior to commencing costly new projects.
“This sort of substanceless headline grabbing, fast track (legislation) … without regard to real reform or taxpayer savings is why nobody takes the House seriously as a deliberative body anymore,” one state government observer told FITS this week.
We agree …
Fortunately, S.C. Senate Majority Leader Harvey Peeler (RINO-Cherokee) has proposed consolidating our state’s infrastructure funding, Sen. Vincent Sheheen (D-Camden) has proposed a “fix-it-first” amendment while Sen. Larry Grooms (R-Berkeley) has proposed reforms that would address project prioritization.
Hopefully all three of those items will be added to this legislation when it reaches the State Senate.
Given its near implosion last summer (SCDOT was forced to rely on a $52 million bailout from the administration of Barack Obama just to stay afloat), state lawmakers cannot afford to pass yet another example of “reform in name only.”
Haley, Lucas, Peeler, Sheheen and Grooms have all put forward worthwhile proposals aimed at fixing this badly-broken agency. Lawmakers need to incorporate all of these ideas into this legislation, not pick and choose reforms in the name of political expediency.