Gov. Henry McMaster has acquired the power to fire any or all the Department of Transportation’s commissioners. It was a DOT-reform element in the gas tax bill that was passed this year and took effect July 1.
The commission has been responsible all along for the condition of the roads. Ultimately, it decides what to fix and when, how to do it, and how to spend money allocated by the General Assembly.
While the gas tax bill didn’t fix everything, it did give us clearer lines of accountability — if we will use them.
That’s great, because no one is happy with how the commission has handled its responsibilities.
That there was any public support for a tax hike proves it. Taxpayers were so fed up with the condition of the roads that some were actually willing to pay more if that’s what it took to fix them (it wasn’t, but that’s another story). That’s not a referendum on the tax, but on the people chiefly responsible for the roads.
When a new CEO is brought in to turn around a failing company, he often will fire a top tier of management to turn over a new leaf. It’s an approach McMaster would do well to consider.
The current commission has failed. Firing them all and starting over with a new administration would be a statement of good faith to the taxpayers that their concerns have been heard and are being seriously addressed. McMaster might also consider appointing commissioners who will put all the people’s interests before the interests of some businesses, especially the business of building new roads.
One commissioner, Mike Wooten, has resigned to better pursue his business interests, he said. It’s time to borrow Cromwell’s speech to the Rump Parliament in 1653 and say to the rest:
“You have sat too long for any good you have been doing lately. Depart, I say; and let us have done with you.”