Campaigns are taking to roads -- and bridges
Thursday, July 24, 2014 1:13 AM
Gov. Nikki Haley had to see it coming. And Tom Ervin probably won’t be far behind in giving more details of his own plan.
What about? Plans to fix our state’s roads and bridges, that’s what.
Haley’s Democratic opponent, state Sen. Vincent Sheheen, on Tuesday released some of the details his plan. Meanwhile, Haley has kept hers close to her chest, saying her tax-free, road-saving plan will be rolled out to the Legislature in January. Translation: She must first be re-elected before the gift box will be given. And Ervin, who is running as an independent Republican, already intimated some of his plans for the fix. In a visit to this newspaper earlier this month, Ervin said increasing the gas tax is indeed an option that would be on the table for him if elected governor, noting the state has the nation’s second lowest tax rate.
While voters know nothing of Haley’s plan, aside from the fact it will not include raising the gasoline tax, Sheheen suggests lawmakers establish a plan that would dedicate 5 percent of the state budget and surplus each year to repairing and building roads. Were that plan in place this year, it would have raised about $350 million toward road maintenance. Like Haley, Sheheen is not calling for a gas tax hike to fund his plan.
To address more immediate roads needs, Sheheen wants to borrow money immediately. He is also calling for a concentration on repairing existing roads before doling out dollars to build new ones. And, perhaps not surprising, Sheheen sees a need for reorganization the Department of Transportation. Perhaps that plan should include taking a hard look not only at DOT, but also at how lawmakers have a knack for steering road money, but not necessarily where it is needed most.
If the three gubernatorial candidates should grace the voters with a debate, this should prove an interesting topic. We know Sheheen will have some sort of answer. So will Ervin. But will the incumbent governor really be able to treat the debate like a game show and tell the voters they’ll simply have to wait until after the election to learn what is behind Door No. 1? If she’s smarter than a fifth-grader -- and we believe she is -- we think Haley’s hand will soon be forced and she will have to share at least a framework for how she intends to fix our state’s roads.