From our News Partners at WCBD-TV:
Gov. Nikki Haley released her budget plan for next year and it includes what she says will be more than $1 billion more for roads without raising the gas tax or any fees.
“I think we're going to continue to talk about infrastructure every year, but for those people who want to raise taxes, I'm not your girl,” she said.
Where would the new road money come from? Every year, the state Board of Economic Advisors estimates how much money the state will have to spend the following year. They make that estimate in November, and that’s what the governor uses to write her budget. But almost every year, that estimate gets increased in May, so the state suddenly has more money to spend. The increase has average more than $106 million a year.
Haley is asking state lawmakers to put all of that new money toward roads. If some of the money is used to borrow more, it could mean $1.35 billion for roads and bridges over ten years.
The problem is that the money is not certain, and the DOT says it needs more than $1 billion a year every year, not over 10 years, to bring roads and bridges up to a condition considered “good.”
Gov. Haley says state agencies always ask for more money, but the state has to live within its means. "Last year we put a billion dollars towards roads,” she says. “We did that without raising taxes. Why are we so anxious to raise taxes when we don't need to? We have strongly shown we can do it without that."
House Democratic Leader Todd Rutherford said after the governor’s budget news conference, “Governor Haley continues to fail to offer a long-term funding strategy for our state's critical infrastructure needs. Instead of providing real leadership in a changing economy, Governor Haley provides bandaids for bullet wounds that will only increase in size so long as she and her Tea Party allies run the show in South Carolina."
Her budget would also spend more on schools, using new money expected to come in this year. She wants to put $97 million into schools with the highest poverty rates. Her plan would also hire a reading coach for every elementary school to boost reading levels, at a cost of $29.5 million. And she wants to upgrade technology, at a cost of $29.3 million, so all schools have bandwidth and wireless capabilities, and every student has a laptop or tablet.
Her plan would also eliminate the 6 percent state income tax bracket. That’s paid only by people whose net taxable income is between $11,520 and $14,400 a year. If lawmakers go along and eliminate the bracket, the state would lose about $26 million. People in that bracket would save an average of $29.
You can download her entire budget proposal HERE.
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