Well, here’s a positive development. You know how, a couple of days ago, the SC Senate Republican Caucus, led by Harvey Peeler, put out an agenda that included the following?
Transportation Reform – The Caucus will support structural and funding changes to our state’s infrastructure maintenance and construction process to make sure every dollar is maximized and allocated based on merit. The Caucus will explore mechanisms for increasing funding to meet growing infrastructure needs without raising taxes.
I knew that was something Harvey particularly cared about. Remember this op-ed he wrote on the subject, “Force-feeding asphalt to Charleston while the rest of S.C. starves“?
Well, anyway, instead of doing what a lot of party leaders do — trying to push through their agendas along party lines — Harvey is teaming up with a leading Democrat on this one:
Peeler, Sheheen introduce bipartisan highway reform bill
Columbia, SC – January 10, 2013 – Senators Harvey Peeler (R-Cherokee) and Vincent Sheheen (D-Kershaw) today introduced a bipartisan transportation reform bill, aimed at restructuring the state’s transportation agencies, better coordinating the highway construction process, and ending irresponsible over-borrowing.
The bill, S.209, would eliminate the State Infrastructure Bank, and fold its functions into the state Department of Transportation. It would also prevent the DOT from borrowing for construction projects above and beyond its bonding capacity.
The bill arose from years of State Infrastructure Bank projects being awarded based on political decisions rather than merit, and after it was recently revealed that the SIB approved borrowing for the I-526 extension in Charleston above the established bonding capacity.
Peeler said the bill was needed to make sure road funding was a merit based and need based process.
“The SIB has been force feeding asphalt to the coast, while the Upstate and many rural areas starve,” Peeler said. “It just doesn’t make sense to have one state agency building expensive new roads when we can’t even keep up with our current maintenance needs. I’m pleased to have bi-partisan support on a much-needed reform that will help get the politics out of road building.”
Sheheen said “we must give priority to fixing our existing roads and bringing accountability to our government.”
Looks like Harvey’s seeking a consensus solution — at least among non-coastal senators. Here’s hoping something good comes out of the effort. With both of these guys invested in reform, there seems a better-than-usual chance of that.