SC

SCDOT Chief: Lawmakers Are Being “Emotional”

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”…

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.”

Ruh-roh …

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.

Hmmmm …

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).

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37 comments

Descendent January 22, 2014 at 9:04 am

“They are petulant, petty, vindictive and generally every bit as incompetent as St. Onge and his vast bureaucracy.”

As my late Grandfather, a 24 year veteran of the General Assembly, would say: they are “representative” of the state as a whole.

Sometimes, the representative group spawns a “leader” that rises above his or her peer group in the GA and the citizenry. Sadly, SC has had no such luck since Richard Riley and Carroll Campbell. Anxiously, I await the next “leader.”

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Frank Pytel January 22, 2014 at 9:14 am

State funded roads are absolutely NOT a core function of state government. Federal highways I can buy into as a national security line item, but the state should not be administering construction or maintenance. Let the feds do it themselves.

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venomachine January 22, 2014 at 9:17 am

Actually, providing roads is a core function of government. Roads are used by all AND vastly increase everyone’s standard of living.

Now, I agree the interstates should be a federally built and maintained item, but look at what a mess they are. It is really choosing the lesser of two evils.

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Frank Pytel January 22, 2014 at 9:23 am

I disagree. Providing federal roads at the federal level would save billions if the feds did it themselves (theoretically). Right now the feds design it, tell the states how they want it, provide the designs, and give the states the money to build it.

When the states get the design they go to engineering, who proceed to completely redesign the road (at the cost of millions) and submit for bid. At which time the road builders take the bid documents, try to properly design the roads and submit with there bid. etc. etc.

As to state roads, I don’t think there should be any. Locals want roads, tax the locals and let them build them. They know what they need. If they want freeways, let the state offer up the land for toll roads. User pays. Simple simon EZ PZ.

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The Colonel January 22, 2014 at 10:06 am

Have to disagree Frank. We’d all still be living in the original square of Columbia proper if it weren’t for state and local government building roads. Concur that the system is broken but state and local gubamint absolutely must be involved. Allowing disjointed counties to build roads cause you to end up with a disjointed network that serves no one efficiently.

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Frank Pytel January 22, 2014 at 10:23 am

Re read that colonel. I said Local yes. State no. I consider county to be local. Other than that, 1st amendment allows you to be wrong. :-)

Just sayin’

The Colonel January 22, 2014 at 10:43 am

I got ya, I’m making the case that the state has to be involved – can you imagine what would happen without someone providing a general frame work for the county to work in? For instance, Hwy 11 across the upstate or 9 headed east, you know how you have to twist and turn through some of the little towns where no one thought to lay the whole road out before the counties actually started building?
Without state involvement you don’t get I-285 or GA 400 in Atlanta, just 85 and 75. You’ve got to have someone providing the over all framework.

Realist January 22, 2014 at 1:04 pm

I pray to God that Counties are never tasked with this. Could you imagine counties like Jasper given this task? This place just needs to be napalmed.

The Colonel January 22, 2014 at 1:07 pm

The Jasper county road to Myrtle beach would go through Elloree….

euwe max January 22, 2014 at 6:20 pm

If one would cancel all traffic rules and switch off all traffic lights, watching city traffic on TV would be so awfully interesting!

venomachine January 22, 2014 at 11:24 am

Having worked for the feds in the past, your theoretically is 100% discordant with reality.

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The Colonel January 22, 2014 at 11:45 am

Working for them right now, I’d agree…

Frank Pytel January 22, 2014 at 11:58 am

99%

euwe max January 22, 2014 at 5:07 pm

Tax the locals
——
Blasphemy! heretic unbeliever! Stone him!

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Frank Pytel January 23, 2014 at 5:47 am

The end user pays ALL taxes.

euwe max January 23, 2014 at 2:10 pm

you… you… you… pro-taxer!

Frank Pytel January 24, 2014 at 5:38 am

Just sayin’. No business anywhere pays taxes. The business may front money for the taxes, usually not, in any given year, but a good business man loans the government that money and collects interest on the loan by increasing the prices of his goods the next year. Wouldn’t you?

euwe max January 24, 2014 at 10:27 am

When prices are fixed by a “free market”- like milk or coffee you don’t change the price to cover your taxes. The oil companies do, because they are bigger than the government, and can’t be taxed. That will never change – libertarian or no. They decide what profit they will make, and they will make that. If it destroys the goose, they’ll back off ten cents.

However, businesses adjust to taxes the same way people do, and it stabilizes. The economy is malleable.

You will definitely not get a break if they are taxed less.

Frank Pytel January 24, 2014 at 10:46 am

Wrong again brother. Keep reading. Keep trying. Good Luck.

euwe max January 22, 2014 at 5:06 pm

Just say “libertarian” and click your heels three times.

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Native Ink January 22, 2014 at 10:40 am

Beware. The mayor of North Charleston, Keith Summey, is now saying we need to raise the state gas tax so he can get his wish list of new roads in his city. Some of the proposed roads make sense, others are only meant to further development in areas in which his son, Elliot, has a stake. The gall of it is that Keith Summey and his proxy voters on the Charleston County Council are the biggest advocates of the I-526 Extension, which will hoover at least $556,000,000 out of the DOT budget. The actual cost will undoubtedly be many millions higher. Opponents have been saying for years that the waste of money on the I-526 Extension will delay or prevent infrastructure improvements that our state actually needs, Thank goodness Mayor Summey has a solution. Just raise our taxes!

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FEDUP January 22, 2014 at 11:09 am

No more roads until they fix what we have! D.O.T. says they do not have the money to fix what we have,so how the hell are they building more roads? Where is all the money going? Look around ,its sure not going into road repair. If you talk to anyone at D.O.T. they tell you that gas tax will have to be increased before they have any money. I think that the politicians are hoarding the money to use as an excuse to push up the gas tax! if not where is all the money? When voting time comes around i bet the same crooks are voted right back in office to screw the people again!

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Paver January 22, 2014 at 11:22 am

Highway money is one reason why Bobby Harrell is in trouble. With him out of the way hundreds of millions of road dollars is available for Leatherman to SCAM to his friends, businesses and crony’s.

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tomstickler January 22, 2014 at 12:00 pm

And we still have I-73 boosters like Alan Clemmons selling the lies about 29,000 new jobs to the Feds.

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The Sons of Liberty January 22, 2014 at 1:00 pm

“They are petulant, petty, vindictive and generally every bit as incompetent as St. Onge and his vast bureaucracy.”

That’s the money shot right there, nicely done Sic.

“Unlike some libertarians, this website believes the construction and maintenance of a system of roads and bridges are core functions of government.”

Yea, well you’ll come around.

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euwe max January 22, 2014 at 5:04 pm

Yeah, he’ll bat his wife on the head with a club and drag her into the catacombs under the bridge with Bez and I, eating rats and cockroaches as god and the founding fathers intended… enlightened at last.

He can use my publishing empire (described elsewhere)

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The Sons of Liberty January 22, 2014 at 6:50 pm

Good one, not cliche’ either.

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euwe max January 22, 2014 at 7:25 pm

I’m a tower of humility, head and shoulders above the rest!

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Thanks FITS for posting #'s! January 22, 2014 at 1:28 pm

” 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.”

I think I’m going to scream if I see someone post one more time how SC govt needs to raise the gas tax or give the SCDOT more funds.

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nitrat January 22, 2014 at 8:50 pm

It’s good to have such complete trust in a Koch group with an agenda.
What makes you think they understand their numbers any better than Mark Sanford and Will Folks understand theirs?

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ELCID January 22, 2014 at 5:33 pm

Robert St. Onge is one of Haley’s worse appointments, and that says a lot considering her other appointments. He is a fine military person, but had no experience to justify leading the largest Department in SC State Government: dollar wise. He has been a total disaster, with little or no knowledge of DOT operations, or how to manage such a large work force or budget. He’s just another idiot appointment form the Governor and Idiot in Charge.

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nitrat January 22, 2014 at 8:47 pm

What makes people take jobs they know absolutely nothing about?
They must be way more narcissistic than the average politician.

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ELCID January 23, 2014 at 9:39 am

Exactly, plus greedy and over rating their skill set.
If I wanted to take that hill (military wise): St. Onge would be my man.
But, to lead the DOT: NO!

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Town Crier January 23, 2014 at 11:17 pm

And has a “Chief of Staff” who used to be…a Senate secretary. Good grief. No wonder that place is a mess.

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ELCID January 24, 2014 at 9:13 am

Extra sad facts:
1. St. Onge couldn’t even pay the contractors on time. So, now we have to pay extra to cover their interest, carrying, late payment, and unknown charges. Which they have to add to their bills because they don’t know when, or even if, they are going to get paid.

2. When appointed: he had no knowledge of Clemson’s CU-ICAR Advanced Vehicle Research Campus, or USC’s Fuel Cell Research Program. These are programs that are tops in the nation, bring research dollars, save SC Citizens money, and create jobs. He didn’t even know they existed, or how to work their research into SCDOT projects.

3. Tony Fox, past mayor of Charlotte, was just appointed head of the US DOT. He’s in a position to help research in NC and SC. I seriously doubt whether St. Onge even knows who he is, ever met the guy, or plans on going to DC, or Charlotte, to help get funding for SC projects.

St. Onge is just another reason Haley should be run out of office on a rail.

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nitrat January 22, 2014 at 8:35 pm

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).
Read more at https://www.fitsnews.com/2014/01/22/scdot-chief-lawmakers-emotional/#WE7Op0LixQkvfQCR.99
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).
Read more at https://www.fitsnews.com/2014/01/22/scdot-chief-lawmakers-emotional/#WE7Op0LixQkvfQCR.99

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Arlen Cooper January 23, 2014 at 11:42 am

Almost, Thou persuadest me.

Reply

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