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Attention Hybrid And Electric Drivers: New Fees Could Be Coming Down The Road

AP Photo/Martin Meissner, File

A top Republican lawmaker says hybrid and electric vehicle drivers in Kentucky should expect a new flat fee to make up for lost revenue from the state’s gas tax. 

Officialswarn a "perfect storm" is brewing for the commonwealth's infrastructure – and more fuel efficient cars are actually a contributing factor.

Kentucky drivers shell out 26 cents-a-gallon to help fund construction and maintenance of roads and bridges, but those returns have long been trending downward. At the same time, the state is slated to lose credits leveraged for matching funds on federal projects. The American Society of Civil Engineers also gave Kentucky’s roads, dams, and levees a “D” on their most recent report card.

Legislators have been weighing new ways to pump up the state's road fund, including charging drivers by the mile instead of the gallon. But Republican Sen. Jimmy Higdon told a Kentucky Chamber of Commerce audience in Lexington Monday that the state appears to lack the resources to take that route. He did predict, however, that the 2020 General Assembly will approve new fees for drivers using less fuel.

"It would probably be around $100," Higdon estimated. "A lot of states have done... $100 on hybrids and $200 on total electric, so we'll see where that takes us. But electric vehicles do have to pay their way."

Lane Boldman with the Kentucky Conservation Committee tells WDRB her organization is worried the fee proposal could drive down sales of cleaner-running cars "at a time when the alternative vehicles are picking up market share."

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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