Road funding not on the agenda in West Virginia

| 11/7/2006

The special legislative session this week in West Virginia won't include discussion about changing the state's fuel tax or vehicle privilege tax, despite a new tax report in the state suggesting those taxes be revamped to help pay for transportation projects.

Commissioned by Gov. Joe Manchin, the tax modernization report released early this month includes an entire section devoted to possible changes to the state's road fund.

The report's recommendations include extending the state's 5-cent-per-gallon fuel excise tax that is scheduled to end next year, the Charleston Daily Mail reported. Other recommendations that aren't on the agenda this week involve vehicle taxes and road funding revenue.

Escalating costs for highway construction and dwindling sources for traditional state road funds have left lawmakers to scour far and wide for answers to how they will pay for road projects.

Financial estimates indicate the state will need at least $20 billion during the next 20 years to complete the 170 road projects the agency has on the books. The state has enough funding to complete about 8 percent of the work.

A spokeswoman for the governor said road funding isn't on the agenda because legislators won't be able to devote enough time on the issue to solve anything. Instead, they will focus on matters that can be voted on rather quickly, the Daily Mail reported.

Road funding is expected to draw much consideration during the regular session that starts in January 2007.