Transportation revenue on agenda from coast to coast
Talks about how to pay for needed bridge and road work are certain to again dominate discussion at statehouses across the country. Below is a sampling of notable efforts in some states.
Republican Gov. Kay Ivey and Republican leaders at the statehouse must decide whether additional fuel taxes are among the solutions to the state’s funding needs.
About 45 percent of the tax revenue is routed to the state DOT. The other 55 percent goes for local projects.
Discussion at the statehouse is focused on possibly indexing the state’s excise tax rate. The change to indexing would allow for the fuel tax to rise automatically with the rate of inflation.
A fuel tax increase is anticipated to come up for discussion at the statehouse. Advocates say additional revenue via the tax would provide a shot in the arm for the state to address a long list of road and bridge projects.
Critics counter that a fuel tax is not the best way for the state to move forward with transportation funding.
The Arkansas DOT has decided to remove tolls from consideration for covering costs for road work. The agency has revealed that a study conducted by an infrastructure consultant group about whether to use tolls to cover costs to construct a stretch of Interstate 49 in the state would not raise the needed revenue.
The Arkansas Highway Commission has indicated that the state must continue to look at revenue options other than fuel taxes to pay for needed work.
Gov. Ned Lamont says that charging out-of-state truckers to access Connecticut roadways could raise a quarter of a billion dollars annually. He said collecting more money from professional drivers is a better option to fund transportation work than increasing fuel taxes for all drivers or borrowing.
“I support electronic tolling on heavy trucks that are coming in from out of state, which use our roads toll-free and create significant wear-and-tear,” the Democratic governor said in posted comments.
A group of mayors from the Chicago area are calling for raising the Illinois fuel tax rate.
Outgoing Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is among the mayors in support of a 20- to 30-cent increase to pay for needed transit and road work.
The group also wants the excise rates tied to inflation, which would allow for regular increases.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker says many options are on the table to fund transportation work.
Fresh off implementation of a truck-only toll, Gov. Eric Holcomb has announced he will not move forward with additional toll plans. Specifically, he said he will not pursue tolling the state’s interstate highways.
The Republican governor notified the state Budget Committee the state has enough money coming in via the truck tolls to avoid any new tolls. Holcomb, however, said in his letter to the panel that “there may be good reasons to revisit this (issue) in the future.” (See page 35 for info on OOIDA’s lawsuit.)
A state task force has recommended that state lawmakers pursue more money via sales taxes, the fuel tax, and a fee on electric vehicles. Amounts for possible increases have not been determined. The panel has recommended that any additional revenue raised for transportation be protected. They note that more than $2 billion in transportation revenue has been rerouted to other budgets in recent years.
The pursuit of a fuel tax increase is expected at the state capitol. The existing gas and diesel rates are tied to the price at the pump. Price dips result in fewer tax dollars charged.
One possibility to address the issue is the implementation of a flat tax rate. Leaders in the statehouse say the fuel tax is not the lone solution to address long-term funding needs.
At least one group in Louisiana has said they will call on legislators to raise the state’s 20-cent fuel tax rate.
Gov. John Bel Edwards said he is supportive of legislative efforts to help the state address a $13 billion backlog for transportation needs.
Options, including a fuel tax rate increase, are expected to be considered in the coming months.
Gov. Tim Walz is touting the need for a fuel tax increase to pay for transportation improvements. The Democrat says transportation will be a top priority of his administration. To date, he has declined to offer specifics on how much the tax should be increased.
Fresh off an Election Day defeat of a 10-cent increase to the state’s 17-cent fuel tax rate, transportation officials say a dire situation to fund road and bridge work will only worsen until legislators get a deal done.
MoDOT Director Patrick McKenna says a federal grant provided to the state will be used to study alternatives to the fuel tax. He adds that increasing the state’s vehicle registration fees has support of some state officials. In addition, a vehicle-miles-traveled fee is an option down the road.
Gov. Tom Wolf has said that toll collection may not be the solution for coming up with road revenue.
The Pennsylvania Turnpike has increased toll rates annually since 2009. There is no end in sight for the yearly rate hikes. On the heels of a lawsuit from OOIDA against the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission’s continued rising toll rates, Wolf said he wants to look at changes to how the state pays for transportation. He said there is growing thought among state legislators that the toll option is not working well for the state.
Adding tolls on Interstate 81 is among the funding options being discussed at the statehouse. With the backing of the Virginia Commonwealth Transportation Board, Gov. Ralph Northam wants to collect tolls for trucks only and/or high-occupancy vehicles. Charging tolls for all drivers will not be considered. LL