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Senate Democrats Reveal Local Road Funding Plan

Rural roads.

Senate Democrats want to provide local communities with a variety of long-term options for funding road maintenance and improvements.

The bulk of the Senate Democrats’ proposal focuses on long-term solutions and involves tax increases.  One provision would allow locals to expand their public safety local option income tax to include road safety improvements.  Another would decouple the wheel and excise taxes – allowing counties to enact one or the other, instead of both (as current law requires).

The bill would also give local governments more flexibility to adopt a local gas tax and hold a referendum on using property tax revenue for roads.

Senate Minority Leader Tim Lanane admits this puts a lot of pressure on local politicians, rather than state lawmakers, but says the plan provides a bonus if they make those hard choices.  He says the proposed bill creates a Local Road Improvement Incentive Fund into which the state would provide 250 million dollars out of its budget reserve.

“We’ll recognize that courage, if you will, on your part to take that heat and you’ll get a little bonus for doing that on an immediate basis.”

Under the Senate Democrats’ plan, communities that enact one of the four road funding options would get a one-time payment from the incentive fund, with the amount based on how much they get from the state’s motor vehicle highway fund.

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