WILL FEDERAL FUNDING “FIX IT?”
This website has repeatedly called out the S.C. Department of Transportation (SCDOT) for its lack of project prioritization – subsidizing unnecessary boondoggles instead of long-overdue repairs to crumbling roads and bridges.
They didn’t listen … and now a massive “Floodmaggedon” is making the Palmetto State’s citizens pay dearly for their lack of foresight.
We’ve also called out SCDOT for its terrible cash management, which forced S.C. governor Nikki Haley to beg the administration of Barack Obama for a $52 million cash advance back for the agency in 2011 – just so it could pay past due bills to contractors.
So … why do we bring up this cash mismanagement today?
Well, at the time of the federal bailout Haley gave an interview to Robert Kittle of WSPA TV 7 (CBS – Spartanburg, S.C.) in which she said that despite the cash crunch – South Carolina would be able to handle its share of the clean-up costs in the aftermath of a major storm.
“When it comes to storms, you’re getting that money straight down from FEMA and the state becomes kind of a sub-component of that federal part,” Haley said at the time.
Haley reiterated that point during her first post-“Floodmaggedon” press conference this week – saying that federal funds would help pay for rebuilding the roads and bridges washed out by the storm.
Is she right?
Yes and no.
Only about half of the state’s roads and bridges are federally designated. In other words, those are the roads and bridges that will be eligible for some percentage of matching funds.
The other roads and bridges? That’s a whole ‘lotta our problem.
Compounding this issue are pre-existing federal funding formulas – which limit the availability of matching dollars based on the type of expense. For example, the federal government’s 80 percent reimbursement is generally restricted to new projects – not routine maintenance.
As a result state leaders – eager to chase federal dollars – appropriate money based on where they will get the biggest match, not where the biggest needs exist.
That means roads and bridges in dire need of maintenance – many of which aren’t eligible for federal funding in the first place – get shafted.
Ready for even more depressing news? According to a 2011 Heritage Foundation study (released around the time Haley was making her “we can handle the clean-up cost” claim), South Carolina has been getting shafted by the federal government for decades.
According to the study, from 1956-2009 Palmetto State taxpayers received 83.5 cents for every dollar they contributed in tax money to the Federal Transportation Trust Fund.