FRANKFORT – The working group tasked with examining funding woes within the state’s road fund will likely request raising various registration and licensing fees that haven’t been touched in decades, the co-chairmen of the panel said Tuesday after a presentation by the Transportation Cabinet.
Those and changes to the gas tax could be proposed by the group ahead of next year’s budget-writing session, in which lawmakers will also cobble together a two-year road plan for highway construction throughout the state.
“It looks like all our fees are 30-some-years-old, and they need to be looked at,” Rep. Sal Santoro, R-Florence, told Pure Politics after the meeting. “We need to adjust them to the present time, like registration fees, 1981 was the last time.
“I think it’s time to evaluate these. Our roads are deteriorating and our bridges, and a possible way is to look at that and to make it, adjust it so it’s not a big hurt on the family, but they know that when we do something that they’re going to have safe roads to travel on.”
Rep. John Sims, a Flemingsburg Democrat who co-chairs the work group, agreed with Santoro and said the various vehicular fees throughout the state should be under consideration as the panel works on its funding proposal.
“We have multiple ways of transportation in the state of Kentucky – car, rail, bus, plane, boat, train – so we have to look at it all, and we’re looking forward to getting the (Strategic Highway Investment Formula for Tomorrow proposal) in December hopefully and this group getting together and working out some ideas with some other folks,” Sims said.
Santoro made clear that altering the state’s gas tax formula will also be an option for the work group as they prepare their proposal ahead of next year’s session.
With funding woes in the state’s road fund acting as a financial roadblock to new highway construction that many lawmakers would like to see in their districts in the upcoming two-year road plan, the co-chairmen of the House work group say getting support for the panel’s plan shouldn’t be too difficult.
Santoro says House Republicans haven’t caucused on the issue, but he’s been hearing a lot of chatter about road projects among his colleagues in the halls of the Capitol.
“They say, ‘Oh I need this turn lane, I need that,’ and when you tell them there’s no funding available, we only have one solution,” Santoro said. “It may be to adjust some of the things.”
Said Sims: “If it needs to be done, let’s do it. Let’s fix it, make it right where we have safe roads.”