Kansas panel looks at road funding options

| 11/18/2009

A Kansas legislative panel is looking at ways to pay for a multiyear, statewide transportation improvement plan. Possibilities that are being considered for generating revenue include higher fuel taxes and fees.

The Special Committee on Transportation is looking into replacing the state’s 10-year, $13 billion transportation program that ended this summer. They are pursuing options that include raising another $3 billion to $6 billion during the next decade. Other more expensive and less expensive options also continue to get consideration.

Appreciating the task in front of them – getting tax increases approved during such tough economic times – advocates for a new transportation plan are touting the boost to roads and bridges while helping the economy and creating more jobs.

Among the tax increases drawing consideration are adding a sales tax to fuel purchases, increasing the per-gallon tax rates on gas and diesel, and increasing vehicle registration fees.

Removing the sales tax exemption on motor fuels reportedly could generate $3 billion over 10 years. Currently, nine states apply a sales tax to fuel purchases.

Truck driver and OOIDA Life Member Paul Ercse of Denison, KS, said he could stomach modest tax and fee increases because he feels the state does a good job with the money it already applies to roads and bridges.

“From driving in all the other states and seeing what kind of shape those roads are in, I think Kansas does a pretty good job of keeping their roads maintained, as well as building good highways,” Ercse told Land Line.

If given a choice, Ercse would rather see lawmakers implement a fuel tax increase to boost revenues.

“I would be more in favor of a couple of cents fuel tax increase rather than an increase in licensing fees. Because with higher license fees you just have the people in the state of Kansas paying the increased fee, but with the fuel tax it is applied to anyone buying fuel there,” Ercse said.

Ercse also said that licensing fees for commercial vehicles in Kansas already are among the highest in the country.

The panel’s goal is to have their recommendations ready by the end of the year. The full Legislature could consider the plan during the regular session that convenes in mid January.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Kansas in 2009, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor

Editor’s Note: Please share your thoughts with us about the issue included in this story. Comments may be sent to statelegislativedesk@ooida.com.