By Jacqueline Pitts, The Bottom Line
FRANKFORT, Ky. — On the final day to file bills in the state House, legislation was brought forth to generate more money for Kentucky’s roads and bridges.
As Kentucky struggles to maintain roads and bridges in its 120 counties and faces a decrease in funding from the federal government, Rep. Sal Santoro, R-Florence, filed House Bill 517 which would generate money for the state to spend on failing roads and bridges by adding 10 cents per gallon to the state’s gas tax and other fuels as well as expand some fees on electric vehicles, car registration renewals, and specialty license plates.
Santoro also filed a similar bill during to 2018 session. In an interview with The Bottom Line about the need for infrastructure funding, Santoro noted transportation funding is critical in Kentucky as roads and bridges need repair throughout the state and pointed to the fact that the state’s General Fund, where most government services are paid, and the Road Fund are separate and Kentucky’s infrastructure has been neglected as a result of a lack of changes to that fund.
Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin has often stressed the need for increased infrastructure funding and has stated for every one cent the gas tax is raised, around $31 million would be generated in revenue for the state. Bevin has said publicly 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.
Along with the gas tax change, House Bill 517 would add an “electric vehicle highway user fee” of $175 that owners of those cars would pay when they register them and renew their license plates each year as electric vehicles are using the state roads but not paying the gas tax which goes to infrastructure needs.
Among other fees, the bill also increases the annual cost of renewing the license plates of most passenger vehicles, to $22, from the current rate of $11.50, and to $15, from $9, for motorcycles.
Infrastructure funding is a top priority of a large coalition of more than 34 groups and companies including the Kentucky Chamber, the Kentucky League of Cities, UPS, Kentucky Public Transportation Association, and many more.