State transportation funding options are all over the map

December 2019/January 2020

Keith Goble

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Due to a continued lack of federal activity to aid states with road, bridge and transit funding, elected officials all over the map are working to find solutions to reduce funding gaps.

Governors in the Northeast U.S. are working together to come up with a plan to bolster transportation funding.

Among the options being considered by 12 states stretching from Maine to Delaware is a regional fuel tax to aid mass transit projects. The dozen states and the District of Columbia are considering a plan to gradually reduce emissions over a 10-year period.

The regional tax on gas and diesel purchases amounts to a cap-and-trade plan. The plan would invest additional revenue in transit, electric-vehicle charging and other transportation infrastructure.

Other efforts around the country include tolls, additional fuel taxes, and a pay-by-mile system. Below is a sampling of Land Line research on the topic.

Arizona

One leading lawmaker in Arizona is again pressing for additional road revenue via a fuel tax increase.

House Transportation Chairman Noel Campbell, R-Prescott, introduced a bill during the 2019 regular session to more than double the gas tax and nearly triple the diesel tax.

Campbell now is pursuing a change that would at least double the current tax rates.

He has said the rate increase would ensure that everyone is paying their fair share of ongoing maintenance of the state’s transportation system. He adds that the state is nearly $1 billion per year behind in transportation obligations.

Connecticut

Gov. Ned Lamont has unveiled a revamped plan to collect tolls on highway users along certain bridges and tunnels.

The 10-year, $21 billion transportation plan includes a proposal to use federal loans to get needed work done. Tolls would be used to pay back the loans.

In early 2019, Lamont proposed toll collection at 53 locations across the state.

The revised plan calls for collecting fees of up to $1 for motorists and up to $7 for large trucks on 14 bridges.

Minnesota

Discussion is expected to heat up again at the statehouse about how to raise additional revenue for needed transportation work around the state.

State DOT Commissioner Margaret Anderson-Kelliher is advocating for a combination fuel tax increase and “debt-service fee.” The combined increases would amount to as much as an additional 15 cents per gallon.

The debt-service fee would increase fuel prices to help fund the expense of borrowing to pay for road work.

Utah

A legislative task force has a plan to collect additional sales tax to cover expenses that include transportation work. The effort is viewed by supporters as a stopgap until a long-term funding solution is found.

The proposal would raise the state’s sales tax on groceries. A sales tax would also be added to gas purchases.

Tacking on the state’s 4.85% sales tax on gas would be in addition to the current 31-cent fuel tax rate. Instead of being charged a sales tax, commercial drivers would pay an extra 10 cents per gallon in excise tax ­– up from 31 cents.

Washington

The Washington State Transportation Commission is reviewing a study about whether to implement a pay-by-mile system to replace the state’s gas tax.

A one-year pilot program testing a 2.4-cent-per-mile rate recently wrapped up in the state. Commercial vehicles are expected to be exempt from a pay-by-mile system.

The commission will pass along recommendations to the Legislature for consideration during the 2020 regular session.

Wyoming

An interim legislative panel has voted to advance an effort to allow the state to seek federal authority to charge tolls on vehicles using Interstate 80.

The Joint Transportation, Highways and Military Affairs Committee voted to move forward with plans to write legislation to help the state find the money needed for construction and maintenance of the heavily traveled east-west interstate.

The effort would have the state DOT come up with a master plan to toll the 400-mile thoroughfare in southern Wyoming.

The Wyoming Trucking Association and OOIDA say that professional drivers already pay multiple taxes and fees to access I-80 and other roadways. LL

 

Keith Goble

Keith Goble has been covering trucking-related laws since 2000. His daily web reports, radio news and “OOIDA’s State Watch” in Land Line Magazine are the industry’s premier sources for information regarding state legislative affairs.