By Chuck Crumbo
Published Dec. 13, 2012
State Rep. Nathan Ballentine has pre-filed a bill calling for the state to bank extra revenue for highway needs.
The measure provides that if the Board of Economic Advisers adjusts its forecast for the fiscal year after the House approves the state budget, any increase in projected revenue goes to the state’s portion for highway funding.
Using the extra revenue would not require raising taxes to cover the state’s portion of highway needs, said Ballentine, R-Chapin.
Although Ballentine’s bill wouldn’t cause pain inflicted by higher taxes, University of South Carolina economist Doug Woodward thinks the state needs to hold on to the extra revenue.
“We need to put that in a rainy day fund,” Woodward said. “I’ve always advocated that.”
“The problem,” Woodward said, “is that while sometimes revenues may exceed forecasts, there’ll be other times when it won’t.”
The state’s business leaders are pushing the S.C. Legislature to do more to fund highways and other infrastructure necessary to meet growing demands of moving commerce.
The state needs to come up with a remedy for its infrastructure woes, Ballentine said at the Dec. 6 Power Breakfast hosted by the Columbia Regional Business Report.
“We can talk about that and give it all the lip service we want, but until we start making that a funding priority, that’s going to be one of things that’s holding back growth in the Midlands,” Ballentine said.
Ballentine’s bill has been referred to the House’s Committee on Education and Public Works.