The South Carolina House passed a roads bill that would raise state gas taxes by 10 cents per gallon over the next five years. Because the age group that includes college students drives an average of 15,000 miles a year, the tax would cost college-aged drivers approximately $60 per year.
According to Secretary of Transportation Christy Hall, the state’s highway system is in "crisis" due to a lack of funding and delayed maintenance. The South Carolina Department of Transportation reports that 54 percent of the state’s highways are rated in "poor condition" with the cost of repair adding up to $8 billion. The bill is expected to raise $600 million a year towards fixing roads and infrastructure.
In addition, the bill would cost residents $60 in fees every two years if they own a hybrid vehicle and $120 in fees every two years if they own an electric vehicle. State Rep. Gary Simrill says that these fees are meant to confirm that energy-efficient cars "using the roadways, help pay for the roadways.”
Those opposing the controversial bill say that it will waste state money and not be effective enough to bring about a restructuring of SCDOT.
“South Carolina leads the entire nation in the number of highway deaths,” Hall said. “An increase in funding can lead to proper maintenance and the beginning of a targeted safety improvement program on rural highways where a majority of deaths occur,” she added.
The next stop for the bill is the state Senate, who must vote on it before it can advance out of the legislature.