Nebraska senator wants new revenue source for state’s roads

| 1/4/2008

If a Nebraska state lawmaker gets his way, a portion of the $170 million generated annually from motor vehicle taxes would be used for road work in the state.

The Nebraska Department of Roads predicts a $190 million budget shortfall in 2010. Officials with the department blame the shortfall on federal funding cuts, rising construction costs and declining revenue from the state’s fuel taxes.

To help offset some of the deficit, Sen. Tony Fulton, R-Lincoln, is pursuing a plan to fund Nebraska state roads with motor vehicle taxes. Those taxes now are earmarked for the state’s general fund.

Fulton is calling for rerouting 5 percent – about $8 million to $10 million – out of what schools receive from the vehicle taxes. State law now allots 60 percent of the annual motor vehicle tax for education. The rest is split between city and county governments.

Opponents say they don’t want to see school districts take the financial hit that would result from putting the money to roads.

Fulton said aid for schools from the general fund would be increased to make up the difference, The Associated Press reported.

Funding for roads can be considered during the upcoming regular session, which begins Wednesday, Jan. 9. At that time, several other lawmakers are expected to introduce proposals addressing the road funding issue.

Proposals that are expected to be considered include applying a sales tax to the price of fuel, borrowing money and turning Interstate 80 into a toll road.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Nebraska, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor