Maine lawmakers talk about transportation revenues

| 9/12/2007

With the state of Maine facing a shortfall in highway funding, the possibility of adding tolls on some roads and bridges is among the options drawing consideration.

The chairman of the Legislature’s Transportation Committee, Sen. Dennis Damon, D-Trenton, said something needs to be done to deal with a funding gap, which is estimated at $162 million annually for the next 20 years.

The Maine Department of Transportation relies on financing from the federal government, state fees, bonds and the fuel tax. Damon told lawmakers there isn’t enough income flowing to the state to complete needed transportation work.

To make matters worse, he said the state also needs to invest in railroads and other means of transportation, the Portland Press Herald newspaper reported.

Meeting with the Appropriations Committee, Damon and others on the transportation panel talked about how to generate more revenue. Among the options discussed were tolling roads and bridges, turning the state’s fuel tax into a sales tax, increasing driver fees and borrowing money for repairs.

Changing the fuel tax to a sales tax would allow revenues for the state to increase along with the price at the pump.

Legislators held off on making any decisions. A subcommittee will be responsible for coming up with a list of recommendations to put before the House and Senate when the 2008 session begins.

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

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor