NEW GOP GOVERNOR WANTS A FEDERAL BAILOUT TO COVER THE COSTS OF SOUTH CAROLINA’S CHRONIC MISMANAGEMENT, WASTE AND CORRUPTION
S.C. governor Henry McMaster wants to cash in on his relationship with U.S. president Donald Trump – to the tune of $5.2 billion. Of course if Trump is half the businessman he says he is, he might want to take a pass on this particular pitch.
McMaster is asking Trump to spend $5 billion of federal tax money on the Palmetto State’s woefully mismanaged network of roads and bridges. This request comes even as state leaders have doubled the budget of the scandal-scarred S.C. Department of Transportation (SCDOT) over the past seven years. And as they continue to blow hundreds of millions of dollars on non-priority projects. And continue to skim millions off the top for themselves.
Does this sound even remotely like a good investment to you? Hell no …
McMaster also wants Trump to fork over $180 million for the S.C. State Ports Authority (SCSPA) – yet another results-challenged Palmetto bureaucracy. This is money that would be earmarked to complete a dredging project of dubious benefit. Of course the cash would also directly benefit McMaster’s longtime political confidant – neo-Confederate GOP consultant Richard Quinn, who has raked in millions of dollars from this agency over the years.
Bill Stern, another top McMaster ally, is a member of the SCSPA’s board – where McMaster himself briefly served prior to running for lieutenant governor in 2014. Under Stern’s “leadership,” SCSPA has fallen apart. Not only has the agency failed to develop a public-private port in Jasper – the last deepwater port location on the Eastern Seaboard – it has seen the competitive position of the port of Charleston plummet compared to that of Savannah, Georgia.
We know McMaster supported Trump during his 2016 presidential campaign (as did Stern) – but are these really the sort of people Trump wants to entrust with billions of your tax dollars?
We support infrastructure as a core function of government – and we believe it should be funded commensurately. But in South Carolina, billions of dollars have been wasted on politically-motivated projects while critical needs go unmet. Seriously, we don’t prioritize projects here – we throw money wherever politicians feel they are going to get their bread buttered.
Accordingly, pouring billions of additional dollars into a system as corrupt and wasteful as South Carolina’s isn’t going to fix our state’s roads – it’s simply going to continue making our current problems more expensive to deal with.
And the port? It’s a joke, people … a case study for what happens when you give politicians control of an asset that ought to be managed by the private sector. The operations of the port of Charleston should have been privatized years ago – and our state’s failure to do so has fundamentally devalued what should have been one of our most vital competitive assets.
Don’t get us wrong: If Trump and the U.S. Congress approve national infrastructure legislation then South Carolina should absolutely use the money it receives from this bill to improve the deplorable condition of its highway system.
But therein lies the rub … unless things change in the Palmetto State (and dramatically so), no amount of money in the world is going to “fix our roads.”
This federal tax money will never make it where it needs to go unless the SCDOT is completely reorganized and then compelled to prioritize its projects on the basis of real need, not political pressure or corporate pressure.
McMaster hasn’t said word one about reforming our state’s corrupt, broken government … he’s simply gone to Trump with his hat in hand. If he wishes to be taken seriously, he needs to plug the holes in his hat before he asks Trump to dump more money into it.
Otherwise, Trump would be better served investing this money elsewhere.
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