By Ben Homeyer
The House finished its work on the budget this week. There were very little substantive changes from the version that was passed by ways and means. Emphasis on infrastructure, economic development, workforce development, healthcare, and education stayed in place. $200M to SCDOT for bridge repairs and replacement. The budget also includes $250M in nonrecurring funds to accelerate County Transportation Committee projects. The Department of Commerce was appropriated $200M for economic development infrastructure. It was a strategic allocation in the year’s budget to identify, acquire, and develop sites for large economic development projects. SC State Aeronautics was allocated $50M for commercial airport projects. In addition, and running with the budget was $1.3 billion for the new Scout Motors project in Blythewood. The sight which will encompass 1500 acres will house not only Scout Motors but will be used for Audi in Phase 2 and potentially VW in Phase 3. Allocations for site construction ($650 million) include an interchange on I-77 directly to the site, significant improvements to the roads in neighboring communities, a railroad bridge, water/wastewater, and grading of 1100 acres.
The Senate is looking at legislation about foreign owned companies. While the language is currently aimed at keeping Chinese, Russian, North Korean, Cuban, and Iran from owning land and companies in the state it could have larger ramifications. The business community has been working with Senators to make them understand numerous long standing corporate citizens in SC have foreign ownership.
The Senate also began debating the breakup of DHEC. The agency controls everything from the mining act which they have expressed an interest in opening, to air and water quality as well as numerous other issues. The meetings this week were the first of three that will be held by the sub-committee. The legislation stands little chance of making the crossover deadline to become legislation this session, but it does have momentum to make it to the House for discussion next year.
CRMCA has been in contact with SCDOT about potential changes to the buy America program. We submitted a letter to the agency outlining our position on the program and why changes could be bad for the industry. The Agency is looking for further information from the association about information submitted to the federal government during the comment period to better assist in making sure any changes would not hinder economic development and road and bridge work in the state.