COLUMBIA, SC (WCSC/WIS) - The fight to fix South Carolina's crumbling roads is about to heat up again, and your potholed streets and tax dollars are in the middle of it.
Lawmakers have one last hope for a roads bill to pass this year. The bill is now on a fast track in the Senate, but it's facing some stiff opposition outside the State house.
Senators say their phones have not stopped ringing for days, and now their offices are getting flooded with mail, thanks to anti-tax groups like Americans for Prosperity urging South Carolinians to fight the roads plan, which includes a gas tax increase.
But those same lawmakers say voters calling in don't have their facts straight.
The Senate Republican Caucus brought the roads bill back to life, amending it to have a larger gas tax increase, but also a larger income tax cut and Department of Transportation reform.
Gov. Nikki Haley has agreed to the tax increase only if an income tax cut and reforms to Department of Transportation would offset the costs to taxpayers.
But lawmakers say the only focus from groups like Americans for Prosperity have only been on the gas tax.
"This is a responsible plan," Sen. Shane Massey of Edgefield said. "It's going to allow us to fix our roads, but it's also going to give us much needed income tax relief going forward. It will also reform the department of transportation. Three parts, each one of them are essential."
AFP has been paying the tax at gas stations statewide, and asking the customers whose gas they helped cover to write their lawmaker. The group claims despite what the Senate says about the plan, they believe it is little more than a tax hike.
"This tax swap idea, this goofy tax swap, it's still a tax hike," Americans For Prosperity spokesman Dave Schwartz said. "Our roads still aren't going to get fixed, and the plan doesn't have adequate South Carolina Department of Transportation Reform."
The roads bill is on special order in the Senate, meaning it could get a debate and a vote any day now. If it passes, it heads back to the House of Representatives since the Senate amended the original bill.