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Bill brings hope to Kentucky roads and bridges

Christie Dutton

House Bill 609 could bring needed repairs to our state's roads and bridges.

House Bill 609 could bring needed repairs to our state's roads and bridges. Kentucky needs $1 billion worth of road repaving and over 1,000 bridges that need to be repaired or replaced. The road fund used to pay for these projects hasn't increased in nearly 4 years leaving Kentucky without a way to pay for many of these repairs.

The bipartisan bill, sponsored by Republican Rep. Sal Santoro and Democratic Rep. John Sims, was introduced to the House Committee on Appropriations and Revenue March 1. It would raise the gas tax by 10 cents per gallon (13 cents for diesel), increase license and regulatory fees and implement a fee on electric and hybrid vehicles.

The increase in the gas tax is estimated to only cost the average driver less than $1 per week, but it would raise $342 million dollars a year for the road fund. The increase in license and regulatory fees (such as registration fees, specialty license plates, traffic school) would raise over $89 million a year for road and bridge repairs.

This bill is the result of a study committee formed last summer to address these issues.

HB 609 includes:

  • An increase in the motor fuels tax rate by a minimum of 10 cents (13 cents for diesel) would only cost the average driver less than $1 per week, but it would raise:
    • $177 million/year for the state road fund exclusively for state road fund needs.
    • $165 million/year for county and city road fund needs
  • An increase in road fund license and regulatory user fees that will raise approximately $89.2 million/year when fully implemented. Motor vehicle registration, special license plate fees, titles, traffic school, CDL reinstatement and overweight/over-dimensional permits are included.
  • Implementation of a user fee on electric and hybrid vehicles of $150/year for all electric, $100 for hybrid plug-in and $50 for hybrids.
  • Creation of a multi-modal transportation fund from General Fund dollars that provides revenue needed to help offset the loss of toll credits to the transit program, improve rail crossings, and maintain and improve riverports and general aviation airports.
  • Kentucky counties and cities have worked together to modernize Kentucky's local revenue-sharing programs and are supportive of fully funding transportation infrastructure.  

Additional investments still are needed:

  • House Bill 609 makes great progress for our maintenance and paving backlog, which is $1 billion. It is an important first step but does not fully provide the $490 million the Transportation Cabinet says is needed to address statewide and regional significant projects. In addition, there are hundreds of millions of dollars of unmet needs in our local communities.
  • The creation of the multimodal fund has no source of funding or amount determined. Kentucky needs a $30 million fund for our public transit system, which is losing its source of funds (toll credits) that had been used as federal matching dollars. The fund also is needed to improve rail crossings and general aviation airports.
  • Road Funds diverted to other agencies for non-construction purposes are not reduced. In the proposed budget, they exceed $130 million.