Bonds are one option for road work in Vermont

| 9/5/2007

Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas said he is open to the idea of borrowing money to help pay for repairs and upgrades to roads and bridges.

The Republican governor said the only caveat is that the borrowing not expand the state’s bonded indebtedness. He said if transportation work is more urgent to tap bond proceeds, the state would need to defer something else, The Associated Press reported.

In the wake of the Minneapolis bridge collapse Aug. 1, talks in Vermont have picked up for how best to pay for road and bridge work in the state.

The top Democrat in the Vermont House says “all options are on the table.”

House Speaker Gaye Symington, D-Jericho, says the state’s transportation system is in a crisis. House and Senate lawmakers need to put aside politics and focus on how to pay for repair work that the state estimates will cost $140 million annually to fix, Symington told the Rutland Herald.

One possible solution is to increase the state’s fuel tax rates. Another option is to change the way the fuel tax works by taxing fuel as a percentage of the sale.

House Minority Leader Steve Adams, R-Hartland, said he is against higher fuel taxes. He cited the effect on low-to-moderate income residents already having a tough time with fuel prices and other rising costs, The AP reported.

Instead, Adams backs a Vermont Agency of Transportation proposal to tap existing state revenue for road and bridge work.

The transportation funding issue likely will draw a lot of discussion once the 2008 regular session begins in January.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Vermont in 2007, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor