Wyoming Gov. Dave Freudenthal's suggestion to give the
state's Department of Transportation an additional $162 million in highway
funding for the coming fiscal year has been described as a good start, but
still not enough. Another option that is being discussed to generate revenue is
increasing the state's fuel tax.
Chief WYDOT Engineer Del McOmie said the extra money the
governor has proposed would help the department with its backlog of projects.
But McOmie said a comprehensive plan to increase highway funding for the long
term is needed, The Associated Press reported.
State highway officials have said that $500 million is
needed during the next two years to meet the state's transportation needs. Part
of the funding problem stems from higher construction costs combined with
federal cutbacks, as well as other factors.
Freudenthal has proposed to redirect money that the Wyoming
Legislature early this year earmarked for permanent savings and use it for
improvements to highways and airports.
Freudenthal said he would prefer that lawmakers adjust the
state's funding formula to put more money from the state's severance tax receipts
directly into highways, The AP reported.
Members of the House Revenue Committee have offered their
own plans to help pay for needed roadwork.
Rep. Tom Walsh, R-Casper, is working on a bill that would
divert $220 million from the state's mineral revenues to transportation.
Two other efforts drawing consideration before the panel
would increase the state's per-gallon fuel tax. One proposal would increase the
tax by 2 cents per gallon next year and by 3 cents per gallon in 2008. The
second measure would impose the 5-cents-per-gallon increase next year.
The Legislature is expected to consider these and other
proposals once they convene the regular session that begins Jan. 9, 2007.
If all else fails, Freudenthal said he will continue to
proposed one-time funding increases.