Fuel tax increase among proposals to boost Nevada road dollars

| 12/4/2006

A state highway task force trying to figure out how to pay for roadwork in Nevada has decided on what it wants to pursue during the regular session that begins in February. One idea is to increase the state's fuel tax.

Created by Gov. Kenny Guinn, the citizens' task force is looking for ways to make up an expected $3.8 billion shortfall in Nevada highway funding.

The Blue Ribbon Task Force agreed to a handful of recommendations. One suggestion is to increase diesel and gasoline taxes by 3 cents per gallon. The rates would change based on inflation, The Associated Press reported.

Other ideas include shifting sales taxes on vehicle sales and repairs from the state's general fund to pay for roads. The switch would require legislators to find additional revenue elsewhere to make up for the shortfall in the general fund.

Doubling the cost of driver's licenses and reducing a depreciation allowance that people now get when registering vehicles also were suggested; as was tapping into the state's budget surplus to jump start roadwork throughout the state.

The proposals would bring in about $300 million initially and increase over time.

Transportation officials said the revenue enhancers could be used to pay off a bond issue that would cover a large part of various highway "super-projects," The AP reported.

The recommendations from the panel will be reviewed Tuesday, Dec. 5, by the state Transportation Board. The Legislature and governor-elect Jim Gibbons, who opposes new taxes, would have the final say on the proposals.