CHARLESTON (WCBD) – Crumbling highways, persistent potholes, bridges in need of repair — fixing the problems plaguing South Carolina’s roads is a priority for state lawmakers.The state Senate struck a deal Wednesday on a compromise highway funding bill after plenty of debate, which means a final deal will soon be negotiated with the House and then sent to the governor’s desk.What it means for taxpayers: possibly higher prices at the gas pump and and an increase in fees for drivers licences, vehicle registration, and car permits. It’s all a way to pay for road and bridge repairs across the state. A main component assisting its passage was a tax rebate on the gas tax increase for in state drivers that they pay throughout the year. It was a close vote, but the bill contained the right mix to bring moderate Republicans and Democrats together for passage.Senator Larry Grooms, a Charleston Republican, helped strike the final deal in the Senate and end the long debate.“Without this bill, we’re going to wait another year and another year and the roads are just going to get worse,” Senator Grooms said in an interview. “Legislation should not be easy to pass, particularly as something as important as what we’re doing.”The result: a proposed increase in the state’s nearly 17-cent tax at the pump by 12-cents over six years, plus those added fees for other car-related costs.It will now be up to House and Senate to hash out the differences between their two bills as pressure grows to provide money for infrastructure projects.The goal is to raise revenue to repair existing roads and bridges and build new ones to help the state deal with the increasing amount of traffic.“I think we’re all willing to pay a little more at the pump to have greater safety and greater confidence on the roads,” said Bryan Derreberry, President of the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce.The final highway funding bill is expected to pass in the coming weeks.
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