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Can Lawmakers Patch The Road Fund In Time?

LRC Public Information

Lawmakers at odds over proposed fixes for the state’s declining gas tax revenues have two days to agree on a compromise or face the prospect of a $250 million shortfall in the two-year road plan.

When gas prices began their record-breaking tumble in the second half of 2014, the totals for Kentucky’s Road Fund also took a nose dive. If allowed to continue on its current trajectory, local governments requesting dollars for road construction and maintenance could see that funding slashed by more than 30 percent. Lawmakers have been quietly debating ways to stabilize the fund during the session, but disagreements could derail the chances for a bill.

House Republican Leader Jeff Hoover told a panel on KET’s Kentucky Tonight Monday he wants to allow the gas tax to drop a bit further before setting a floor.

"What House Republicans have proposed is let it come down 2.5 cents rather than the full 5, set that as the floor, and then transfer other money to hold other counties and cities harmless," he said.

Some Senate Democrats, however, want to freeze the tax at its current rate of 27.6 cents a gallon, a move Sen. Ray Jones says should not be confused with a tax increase.

"Some people are saying, this group Americans for Prosperity, send out emails saying this is going to be a gas tax hike and that's not true," Jones said. "What we're trying to do is stop the fall of the gas tax so that we don't destroy our road program in the state."

Gov. Steve Beshear is pressuring lawmakers to act in the remaining days of the session, but he has not said whether he wouldn call a special session to deal with the gas tax should the General Assembly fail to pass a bill.

Josh James fell in love with college radio at Western Kentucky University's student station, New Rock 92 (now Revolution 91.7). After working as a DJ and program director, he knew he wanted to come home to Lexington and try his hand in public radio.
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