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Senate Republicans, Democrats at odds over roads bill - Live5News.com | Charleston, SC | News, Weather, Sports

Senate Republicans, Democrats at odds over roads bill

COLUMBIA, SC (AP) -

The Latest on the South Carolina Senate debate to get more money to state roads (all times local):
    
5:55 p.m.
    
Senate Republicans say they did what voters wanted them to do - send more money to South Carolina roads.
    
But Senate Democrats said the 30-15 vote to send $400 million from general funds to roads does nothing to fix long term problems of deficient bridges and clogged interstates.
    
Senate Majority Leader Harvey Peeler says it isn't a perfect plan, but it was one that could pass and had the governor's blessing. The bill will likely end up in a conference committee in the House, where Speaker Jay Lucas says the bill doesn't do enough because it doesn't have a dedicated funding stream.
    
Democratic Sen. Vincent Sheheen says seeing Republicans show such little courage in sending so little money to roads means they will be bad a decade from now.
    
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4:50 p.m.
    
After nearly a year of debate, the South Carolina Senate has passed a road funding plan supported by Republicans.
    
The 30-15 vote Wednesday afternoon doesn't end the road debate. The Senate plan doesn't raise gas taxes, while the plan passed by the House last year does increase the sales tax on fuel. The differences likely will need to be hashed out in a conference committee later this year.
    
The Senate proposal takes $400 million out of general budget funds for roads.
    
Senate Democrats say roads need a steady stream of money from a source like raising the state's gas tax, unchanged for three decades. They introduced more than two dozen amendments, but all were rejected on party line votes.
    
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12:35 p.m.
    
The leader of South Carolina Senate Republicans says the biggest hurdle to passing their plan to improve state roads appears to have been cleared.
    
Nearly every Republican united Wednesday to reject an amendment by their GOP colleague Senate President Pro Tem Hugh Leatherman to set aside $200 million to use to borrow up to $2 billion to improve interstates.
    
Instead, Senate Majority Leader Harvey Peeler says Republicans are united behind a bill that takes $400 million for the general fund for roads instead of raising gas taxes. Peeler expects a vote on the bill that has clogged the Senate for two months by the end of Wednesday's session.
    
Democrats don't like the bill. They say it doesn't do enough to ensure a steady stream of money for roads.
    
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6:35 a.m.
    
The state Senate's debate on how to get more money for South Carolina roads continues, but Republicans say the end should be in sight.
    
Democrats spent Tuesday introducing amendments to change the part of the GOP proposal that restructures the Department of Transportation Board and other parts of the Republican plan to take $400 million out of the general fund budget for roads.
    
All the amendments were killed on party line votes.
    
Republicans say they want to vote on the bill by the end of the week. Senators have done little else in the General Assembly session that started in January.
    
The state has around $1 billion in additional revenue thanks to population growth and the improving economy.
    
The Senate meets at 10 a.m. Wednesday for more debate.

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