Lawmakers Discuss Need for Infrastructure Funding

In a meeting of the House Appropriations and Revenue Committee on Tuesday, lawmakers heard testimony on the critical need for increased infrastructure in Kentucky.

Rep. Sal Santoro, sponsor of Senate Bill 517, told members of the committee the importance moving forward on changes to the state’s funding for roads, bridges, and other infrastructure funding as Kentucky currently doesn’t have enough money and is facing a decrease in federal funding.

House Bill 517, would generate money for the state to spend on failing roads and bridges by adding 10 cents per gallon to the state’s gas tax and other fuels, as well as expand some fees on electric vehicles, car registration renewals, and specialty license plates. It is estimated the bill would generate $460 million per year in road fund revenue for the state. Read more about the bill here.

Kentucky Transportation Secretary Greg Thomas said it is critical for the state to have more funds for infrastructure as it is a crucial piece for economic development, job growth, and the safety of Kentucky citizens.

Thomas stated the ten cents a gallon increase in the bill would amount to less than people pay for Netflix per month with the total being around $7-$9 a month. He added the Bevin administration does not believe the bill goes far enough in terms of raising funds, but is supportive of the measure as it takes a necessary step to improve the state’s infrastructure.

Others also testified in favor of the legislation, including a county judge-executive and mayor who both stated the revenue generated from the bill would help local communities address infrastructure issues and provide much-needed improvements.

Infrastructure improvements are a key priority of the business community as it is important to companies who need to transport their goods, looking to relocate to Kentucky because of the state’s proximity and create jobs.

Craig Guess, director of business development for Bacon, Farmer, Workman Engineering Services and former chair of the Kentucky Chamber, told lawmakers Kentucky is a prime spot for business and industry and noted highway accessibility and quality are a main requirement for businesses and a healthy economy.

Recent polling, Guess said, shows 75 percent of Americans favor spending more on infrastructure and noted the policies Kentucky’s surrounding states have been implementing in recent years to address this issue with similar solutions. Guess added the revenue generated by this bill would not only help address big needs currently being faced by the state but would also make a significant economic impact.

House Bill 517 was heard for discussion only and did not receive a vote. It is unclear if the legislature will take significant action on this legislation during the final six days of the legislative session.

Source: The Bottom Line by Jacqueline Pitts