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More money must be generated for road funding, Bevin says

By Jacqueline Pitts, The Bottom Line

Beam Bridge in Lewis County.

There’s a shortage in road funding, Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin said recently, and the legislature will have to craft a bill to include a possible increase in the gas tax and other fees to deal with it.

In audio of the forum at the Campbell County Fiscal Court obtained by The Bottom Line, Gov. Bevin said the state gets money for infrastructure and road projects through two main sources: the federal government’s highway trust fund and an excise tax on fuel in the state. Both have declined in recent years, he said, causing a concern for infrastructure in the commonwealth.

When asked about a proposal during the 2018 session to increase infrastructure funding through changes to the formula, Bevin said there were many different numbers thrown around for an increase in the gas tax including up to 10 cents which he said would generate a significant amount of revenue for the Road Fund.

Bevin stated for every cent the gas tax is raised, it would generate around $31 million in revenue for the state. He added Kentucky is facing $6 billion in deferred revenue for bridges alone across the state, so even if it was raised by 10 cents and generated $310 million for road and bridge funding, there is still more that needs to and should be done.

“The bottom line is we need the money,” Bevin said. “And it’s going to have to come up. Nobody likes it, nobody anywhere likes paying taxes. But at the end of the day, we still want law enforcement, we still want roads and bridges, and they have to be paid for by people, the people who live here and use these things. So, it’s going to have to come up because where else is the money going to come from?”

The governor also highlighted the decrease in funding the state has seen from the federal government in recent years and the additional revenue Kentucky is set to lose through the loss of federal toll credits next year.

“Trust me, we are about to have an even bigger problem than most people are even aware of,” Bevin said.

Because of the increasing pressures on the Road Fund and loss of money at all levels, Bevin said the issue of infrastructure will continue to come up and must be dealt with by the legislature.

“The only option we have under our control, at this time the way state government and laws are set up, is to do the variable excise tax on fuel,” he said. “That’s it. So if you want these potholes fixed, if you want these bridges to not collapse, if you want new arteries to be widened, and you want bypasses to be built, and you want bridges to be refurbished or whatever the case might be, it’s going to have to come from money that we don’t currently have and it’s going to come from things like the Road Fund, it just is.”

Learn more about the issue in an interview by The Bottom Line with the sponsor of the 2018 proposal, Rep. Sal Santoro, here.