Better roads equals better jobless rate
Thursday, March 20, 2014 12:00 AM
Gov. Nikki Haley is correct in her assessment this week of the jobs situation in the Palmetto State. The drop in the unemployment rate is indeed a sign the state is moving in the right direction. For the eighth straight month, our state's jobless rate steadily declined, besting the national average by dropping from 6.6 percent in December to 6.4 percent.
And while this is one downward spiral we can all be grateful to see, more can and should be done to ensure it continues. Specifically — and at the risk of beating the proverbial dead horse — we again reference the poor conditions of many of our state's roads, highways and bridges that are the lifeline to much of the state's economic well-being.
We can — and certainly should —? argue many of the finer points of government's overarching purpose, but if government, at all levels, is not going to ensure our infrastructure is well maintained, then whose responsibility is it? Will we conduct periodic fundraisers and hope the private sector gets behind the effort to fix our roads and bridges? Nonprofit agencies have a heck of a time rallying private individuals to support their work, so let's not pretend a benefit concert and silent auction will pave the way to better roads that, in turn, pave the way to more and better jobs in the state.
All across the state, new jobs were announced, and that is a good thing. And all across the state, economic development leaders are hard at work trying to attract even more business and industry. That, too, is a good thing. But these economic development efforts need more than the support of the state Department of Commerce. They need the state to provide competitive roads, highways and bridges that let prospective businesses and industries know that we not only want them in our state and in our communities, we also want to provide them the best transportation infrastructure we can to ensure the safe and smooth movement of commerce.
And so we again urge the governor to reconsider her adamant opposition to increasing the state's gas tax. Sure, take a look at other revenue sources, such as a hike in the price of state driver's and commercial driver's licenses and the like, but bear in mind that the gas tax for repairs and maintenance makes good sense because those who use the roads are the primary ones footing the bills.