Even though the current state of the economy makes possible tax and fee increases intimidating for lawmakers, a transportation funding effort in Kansas relies on those funding sources.
The Senate Transportation Committee voted to advance a proposed 10-year, $8.2 billion transportation program that would increase the state’s sales tax and vehicle registration fees and authorize the use of bonds.
Bonds would be issued to foot the bill for road, rail, air and public transit projects.
The state’s sales tax would be increased from 5.3 percent to 5.6 percent, starting in Jan. 2013. Annual vehicle registration fees for smaller vehicles would increase $20 by 2014. Large trucks would pay more, with the heaviest trucks responsible for paying an extra $135.
The new revenue in the package totals about $2.7 billion through 2020. Combined with existing revenue, the plan’s price tag reaches $8.2 billion. It would replace a 10-year, $13 billion program that ended a year ago, which received revenue from a different funding structure.
Supporters say a new plan is needed to keep the state’s transportation system moving and create jobs.
Owner-operator and OOIDA Senior Member Gordon Alkire of Riley, KS, understands the predicament that the state finds itself in, but he said lawmakers have not helped themselves win public favor to make needed fixes.
“If they would quit misusing funds for things they weren’t designed for, we wouldn’t have this problem. Don’t divert money into other uses, such as bike trails, or borrowing for other uses,” Alkire said.
Despite the concern of Alkire and others at the statehouse, the bill doesn’t include a provision to shield transportation funding from being diverted to other spending priorities.
The bill – H2650 – is awaiting consideration on the Senate floor. If approved there, it would head back to the House for approval of changes.
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– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor
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