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BUT THIS TIME ANOTHER OBAMA BAILOUT SEEMS UNLIKELY … 

Three years ago S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley‘s Transportation Department (SCDOT) ran out of money and had to stop paying contractors. The result? All paving and maintenance work in the state ground to a halt (although totally unnecessary boondoggles still got their money).

Haley got her agency out of the jam by (wait for it) requesting and receiving a $52 million bailout from the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama. Just six weeks after she approved what at the time was the largest spending plan in South Carolina history …

Gotta love those “Tea Party” Republicans, right?

Anyway … what is past is prologue, it would appear.

This week, SCDOT commissioners met to discuss the agency’s fiscal outlook … which isn’t good.

Specifically, they admitted their cash balance would be in the negative beginning later this summer – a shortfall that is expected to last for several months. In fact the cash crunch could be much deeper – and extend into 2015 – if the federal government can’t (or won’t) pay states reimbursements from the recent ice storms.

First, let’s take a look at the SCDOT chart showing the “best-case” shortfall …

(Click to enlarge)

scdot shortfall

Now, here’s what happens if the federal reimbursements don’t materialize …

(Click to enlarge)

scdot shortfall big

Yikes …

At a recent commission meeting, S.C. Sen. Larry Grooms asked point-blank if the agency was going to have another problem paying contractors like they did in 2011. Agency leaders claim they have a contingency plan, but the ice storms were unforeseen, and the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) is already warning states that they will have to decrease payments, beginning in July.

“The trajectory for the highway account has worsened,” federal transportation undersecretary Peter Rogoff said at a hearing in Washington, D.C. earlier this month.

In fact the cash crunch may start affecting states prior to July …

SCDOT is currently run by Haley’s former college roommate. She assumed the position after the governor’s first pick, Robert St. Onge, resigned his office in disgrace earlier this year.

FITS has been exposing South Carolina’s highway funding issues for years. To read our most recent recap, CLICK HERE.