The South Carolina Chamber of Commerce hosted a town hall-style meeting last Tuesday featuring two legislative panels that talked about business priorities and the most pressing issues facing the South Carolina General Assembly. Presented by Zeus Industrial Products, Inc., much of the conversations centered on positions featured in the 2015 Competitiveness Agenda.
Business Speaks had a bipartisan focus on infrastructure funding and the need for workforce development initiatives. Senate President Pro Tempore Hugh Leatherman (Florence) said he has “no interest in a Band-Aid” when looking for a sustainable revenue source for the state’s system of roads and bridges. “If we are going to fix it, we’re going to fix it completely,” he emphasized. He also thanked the business community for “stepping up to the plate on infrastructure,” referencing the unified business support for action on funding. Regarding workforce development, Senator Leatherman noted that South Carolina has more per capita foreign investment than any other state in the nation and that we must educate South Carolinians to fill the jobs that are coming. “The biggest incentive is a skilled workforce,” he said. See more of what Senator Leatherman said.
Speaker of the House Jay Lucas (Darlington) explained the cost of waiting to fix roads. He noted that once a road is beyond rehabilitation, it can cost upwards of $250,000 a mile to replace it as opposed to $11,000 to maintain it. “It continues to worsen while we wait,” said Lucas, who encouraged members of the business community to keep up the pressure. Speaker Lucas also touted diversifying funding sources for infrastructure, something most other states already do. “We will not solve the problem with one revenue source,” he said. See more of what Speaker Lucas told business leaders.
Senate Majority Leader Harvey Peeler (Cherokee) echoed that “everything’s on the table” regarding highway funding. He feels a bipartisan bill that could get the governor’s support would be the best path to a successful plan. And Senate Minority Leader Nikki Setzler (Lexington), who has released a funding plan, encouraged bipartisan leadership on the issue. See more of their conversation.