- Associated Press - Thursday, March 3, 2016

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - The Latest on the General Assembly’s debate on how to get more money to South Carolina’s roads (all times local):

4:30 p.m.

The most powerful Republican in the South Carolina House says a plan by Senate Republicans to find an additional $400 million for roads doesn’t go far enough to fix the state’s problems.

House Speaker Jay Lucas released a statement Thursday afternoon saying the Senate proposal “simply kicks the can further down the road and frankly, into a pothole.”

The Senate proposal takes the $400 million out of the general budget fund, and critics say that doesn’t guarantee the money will continue to go to roads every year.

Lucas says a long-term solution is needed. The Hartsville Republican helped get a bill through the House last year that would have raised sales taxes on fuel and contained tax cuts not in the Senate proposal.

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1 p.m.

It appears South Carolina is on its way to getting an additional $400 million pledged to go to road repairs without raising gas taxes.

House Republicans and Gov. Nikki Haley on Thursday appeared to back the plan which was introduced by GOP senators and should be debated and voted on next week.

But not everyone is enthusiastic about the proposal to use money from the general budget fund. When the economy has not grown, such as during the Great Recession, lawmakers have not kept their funding obligations to local governments or education.

The Department of Transportation says $400 million is enough to put interstates in good condition, It only gets a third of primary roads to good condition, fixes half of the deficient bridges and does no interstate widening.

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6:10 a.m.

South Carolina senators are coming to work early and this time they should be debating a road repair bill.

The Senate is scheduled to meet at 10 a.m. Thursday, about 12 hours after Republicans and Democrats reached a deal to debate a GOP plan to send an additional $400 million to South Carolina roads without raising gas taxes.

The deal came after Democrats became angry when Republicans limited the time to debate any changes to the bill. Republicans later agreed to allow Democrats to put up some amendments and have a longer debate.

The House passed its own roads bill last year, which raised the sales tax on gasoline, but also cut income taxes. The Republican Senate plan has no tax cut.

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