State lawmakers debating transportation funding bill
Experts say the state needs at least $1 billion just to maintain its roads and bridges. Lawmakers are debating House Bill 170, also known as the “Transportation Funding Act of 2015.”
Here is a break down of the legislation as it stands now:
The act converts the state sales tax on motor fuel to an excise tax. Instead of paying the 4% sales tax on the price of gas, there will be a set excise tax of 29.2 cents per gallon of gas and 33 cents per gallon of diesel. This will be a steady stream of income for the state as gas prices rise and fall.
Any local sales taxes on motor fuel currently approved by voters will be honored. Future SPLOSTs and E-SPLOSTs could still be imposed on gas if reauthorized by voters. Money raised from those local sales taxes would have to be used for transportation purposes.
Other types of local sales taxes used for property relief will increase to 1.25% from 1%.
The bill requires drivers with alternative fueled vehicles to pay a user fee of $200 for non-commercial and $300 for commercial vehicles every year. This is because these vehicles do not use gasoline. Drivers who own hybrid vehicles will not have to pay this fee.
The bill also eliminates the state tax credit for the purchase of alternative fueled vehicles.
It is unclear how much funding the bill will raise. The House Transportation committee passed this version of the bill last week. The sponsor, Rep. Jay Roberts, sent it back to the committee to continue working on it.
The bill must pass in the House by Crossover Day on March 13 so the Senate will have time to consider it.