Wyoming road funding methods offered

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Multiple highway funding measures in Wyoming are expected to be considered during the upcoming budget session. The first measure to be filed for consideration relies on funding now directed to the state’s general fund.

The Joint Interim Committee on Transportation, Highways and Military Affairs this fall adopted multiple proposals to raise about $50 million a year to help maintain the state’s roads and bridges.

Intended to help address a $135 million annual shortfall in highway funding, the panel has filed a bill – SF9 – to route about $24 million a year in sales tax paid on off-road diesel to roads.

Diverted sales taxes would only be used for road construction, improvement and maintenance. According to a fiscal note on the bill, the diversion would not cover other programs or costs within the Wyoming Department of Transportation.

Also, local government shares of the sales tax revenue would not be diverted from the general fund to the highway fund.

Other measures to boost certain fees and reroute certain revenues for transportation are likely to be filed for consideration in the weeks leading up to the budget session.

One option endorsed by the panel is to increase vehicle registration fees by $7.50. According to a fiscal analysis, it is anticipated that raising fees on cars and trucks would generate about $7 million.

A separate bill that is expected to be considered would divert nearly $14 million a year from general government fines and penalties for highways. The revenue now is applied to education.

Also expected to be considered by lawmakers is elimination of the state’s ethanol tax credit and additional fees for ignition interlocks.

The 40-cents-per-gallon tax credit on ethanol would be thrown out. The extra revenue is expected to add about $3 million to the transportation pot.

In addition, a $150 one-time fee is sought for people to obtain an ignition interlock driver’s license.

It will be up to the full Legislature to decide whether to approve any, or all, of the committee’s highway funding proposals. The regular session begins Feb. 13.

Voters would get the final say on whether to divert revenue from schools to roads.

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