Tax and fee hikes among proposals touted to aid Delaware roads

| 2/13/2007

To help the state cover a $1.5 billion shortfall during the next six years for transportation, Delaware Gov. Ruth Ann Minner is touting numerous revenue generators as part of her fiscal 2008 capital budget.

Among the proposals being touted by the governor is doubling tolls along state Route 1. Other ideas include higher fuel taxes, boosting vehicle titling and registration fees as well as leasing Interstate 95.

The tax and fee increases would bring in about $80 million a year for the Transportation Trust Fund, the Delaware State News reported.

If approved, the per-gallon tax on gas and diesel would increase 5 cents. Vehicle registration would increase $30 while titling fees would rise 1.75 percent during the next two years.

To help the state emerge from the shortfall, Minner told the State News the state also is "keeping an open mind" about leasing a state-owned toll road to private investors. In addition to leasing I-95, budget officials said state Route 1 and U.S. 301 remain options.

Rep. Robert Gilligan, D-Wilmington, has introduced a bill - HB50 - that contains the tax and fee hikes.

Opponents have honed in on the call for higher fuel taxes and labeled the effort as "simply cruel."

"The fluctuations in price are hard enough on people, but raising a fixed cost is hard," Rep. Deborah Hudson, R-Fairthorne, told The News Journal.

Minner said she knows that no one wants higher taxes and fees, but she said residents will support them if they are used solely for road work.