The S.C. Department of Transportation (SCDOT) is one of several state agencies run completely into the ground under the “leadership” of S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley.
Don’t believe us? Click here for a quick refresher.
Anyway, in true big government fashion Haley’s SCDOT leader – Robert St. Onge – believes “more money” will magically solve all of his agency’s problems. You know … like when it received a $52 million federal bailout from U.S. President Barack Obama in 2011 (at Haley’s request). Or when Haley and “Republican” lawmakers approved hundreds of millions of dollars in new borrowing last year for roads and bridges (a.k.a. South Carolina’s “crumbling infrastructure“).
Despite this massive investment, SCDOT is still struggling to keep state lawmakers happy.
Pothole politics, right?
In fact a handful of lawmakers led by S.C. Rep. Bill Hixon grilled St. Onge this week regarding his agency’s failure to prioritize resources.
St. Onge’s response?
That lawmakers were being “emotional.”
In one sense, St. Onge is correct. Outside of a reality television cast, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more “emotional” group of people than the membership of the S.C. General Assembly. They are petulant, petty, vindictive and generally every bit as incompetent as St. Onge and his vast bureaucracy.
But in the larger sense, St. Onge – and the “emotional” lawmakers criticizing him – are missing the point.
“Reformed” in 2007, SCDOT is still every bit as corrupt and wasteful as it has ever been – flushing hundreds of millions of dollars down the drain on totally unnecessary projects while legitimate needs go unmet.
And speaking of “legitimate needs,” here’s the basic problem: South Carolina administers the nation’s fourth-largest highway system – a whopping 41,613 miles of state-maintained roadways. That’s absolutely ridiculous for a state that ranks No. 40 nationally in terms of size (and No. 24 in terms of population).
And while lawmakers and members of South Carolina’s government-friendly mainstream media would have you believe this system has been “historically underfunded,” data compiled by the Reason Foundation shows the Palmetto State led the nation in tax money spent per mile of state-maintained roads in both 2008 and 2009. And led the nation in taxpayer disbursements per mile of bridges from 2007-09 – the latest years for which data is available.
Unlike some libertarians, this website believes the construction and maintenance of a system of roads and bridges are core functions of government – and that tax dollars should be judiciously and transparently appropriated to perform those functions.
We are nowhere near that goal, however … in fact Nikki Haley’s transportation department has us further from that goal than ever before (while the government cheerleads for the most expensive, most unnecessary transportation boondoggle of them all).