More ‘Bank’ Money for an Unfinished Project?

September 17, 2015

Inside Insight

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road construction ahead

‘THE BOTTOM LINE IS GETTING STARTED’

Almost since The Nerve began, we’ve covered the quiet maneuverings of a mysterious state government entity called the State Transportation Infrastructure Bank, or STIB. This “bank” uses bond debt to finance new and expansionary projects (many of them unnecessary) in a few politically influential counties. – for example, Florence County, the home of Sen. Hugh Leatherman, who virtually controls the STIB board. Itpays vendors directly, just as any state agency would, although it doesn’t have the statutory authority to do so.

Almost as if to confirm these reports, a report in yesterday’s Post and Courier revealed that a half-built highway in Charleston – funded thus far by the STIB – will end up costing far more than was previously thought. Not only that: proponents of the highway want to use what financing is available to build another unfinished section to the highway – making it unfinished but more expensive.

As one legislative proponents puts it – Rep. Chip Limehouse (R-Charleston) – “The bottom line is getting started.” Of course, the project has already been started. More than once. And it’s still not finished. Only more expensive.

But leave that aside. What Rep. Limehouse means, we think, is: Let’s throw whatever debt-financed money we can find into a controversial and unnecessary highway extension before that money goes to another county.

Two years ago, when the highway in question was the special concern of former Speaker of the House Bobby Harrell, Ashley Landess (with an assist from cartoonist Robert Ariail) called the project a boondoggle. Not a lot has changed.