Senators to continue talks on spending reserve money

THE STATE: BY CASSIE COPE, May 21, 2015

With seven days left in the regular session, Senators left the State House Wednesday with state Sen. Tom Davis, R-Beaufort, filibustering an $85 million reserve account spending proposal.

When the Senate returns Thursday, Davis will still be blocking that bill.

Davis argued the reserve money should be spent on road-repairs instead of toward state college and technical college buildings. Davis opposes a gas-tax increase proposal that is set to be debated behind the reserve spending plan.

He has said that instead additional revenues expected to be recognized by the Board of Economic Advisers, should pay to fix roads.

Board chairman Chad Walldorf, another former aide to former Gov. Mark Sanford like Davis, said Wednesday he had not communicated the unannounced state surplus to Davis. The three-person Board of Economic Advisers must vote to confirm that surplus.

“Through April, we’re $200 million ahead of estimates,” Walldorf said.

That means lawmakers could add $200 million to this fiscal year’s state budget and an additional $200 million to next year’s budget.

Opponents to a gas tax like Davis want that added money – roughly $400 million total – spent to repair the state’s crumbling roads. However, the added money also could be used to pay for $237 million in deferred maintenance projects at state-owned buildings and armories.

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