The Roads and Economic Development committee held a second day of hearings on the House road funding plan. The committee first took testimony on HB 4615, HB 4614, and HB 4616, which would increase the diesel fuel tax to 19 cents per gallon on October 1, 2015, making it equal to the tax paid on gasoline. Beginning in 2016, it would adjust the tax for inflation or by 5 percent, whichever is less. The changes would generate $45 million in new revenue. Next, the committee heard testimony on HB 4612, would raise registration fees on hybrid and electric vehicles, generating about $5 million in new revenue.
These four bills are the only bills that generate new revenue for roads. The League has continually stressed the point that our current infrastructure needs cannot be solved without a significant and dedicated source of new revenue and we continue our opposition to any plan that does not address this concern.
Finally, the committee took testimony on, and the League testified in opposition to, HB 4607 and HB 4608. These two bills would cut MEDC funding by $145 million and redistribute that revenue to roads. This redistribution of revenue would have a potentially devastating effect on the Community Revitalization Program, Public Spaces and Community Places program, and many other MEDC grant opportunities our members take advantage of. Additionally, the funds that would be diverted to roads would bypass any additional funding for public transit, further continuing the trend of not investing adequate resources to improve our entire transportation network.
Next week, the committee will hold its final day of testimony and will discuss bills that will dedicate General Fund dollars to roads.
John LaMacchia is a Legislative Associate for the League handling transportation, infrastructure, and energy issues. He can be reached at [email protected] or 517-908-0303.