Road Funding

On The Legislature Today, during his State of the State Address, Gov. Jim Justice presented lawmakers with two plans.

The first was a way to balance the 2018 budget. The second, was a plan to raise more than $1 billion for road construction in the state through a road bond. Since, Justice has been traveling the state promoting that bond plan, but lawmakers have taken little action.

Secretary of the Department of Transportation Tom Smith discusses the proposal and whether Justice has given up on the push for new road funding.

Will Price / West Virginia Legislative Photography

The Senate’s Transportation Committee has voted to advance a bill that would hike some taxes and fees to help increase funding for the state’s roadways. 

The bill was presented to lawmakers by Gov. Jim Justice, but is not part of his plan to generate more than $1 billion in revenues for a bond initiative. 

The Legislature Today
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Additional funding for the state's highway system is in doubt after removed from a House Committees agenda. 

Delegates also inch closer to a vote the could set up a drug testing process for West Virginians who apply for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families benefits.

Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

A House committee has removed a bill from its agenda that would increase Division of Motor Vehicle fees and some taxes to help fund road maintenance and construction projects.

The Legislature Today
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

A Kanwaha County Circuit Judge has ruled that West Virginia Supreme Court Justice Brent Benjamin should not be given state dollars to fund his re-election campaign.

The lawsuit was brought against Benjamin by Beth Walker, one of four challengers in the race. Benjamin was attempting to participate in the state’s public campaign financing program, a program that is only available to candidates running for Supreme Court seats, but this is the first time a candidate’s participation has been challenged.

Charleston attorney Anthony Majestro from the firm Powell & Majestro discusses the implication of the case.

The Legislature Today
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Del. Mick Bates of Raleigh County discussed his party's proposals in the House to increase road funding. Those proposals have failed so far this session, but now Bates and other members of the House are waiting to see what Senators will do with a bi-partisan bill that would increase some fees in order to generate revenue.

On West Virginia Morning, lawmakers at the state capitol are discussing the best way to raise revenue to support road building and maintenance.  Also, children’s advocates are meeting at the capitol as well to go over what the legislative priorities for the Our Children, Our Future campaign will be.  These stories on West Virginia Morning from West Virginia Public Broadcasting – telling West Virginia’s story.

National Governors Assocaition

Members of Congress will continue to debate a long-term plan to fund the nation’s Highway Trust Fund as the U.S. Senate takes up the bill once again Monday. The fund, which expires Friday, dedicates dollars for highways and railways across the country for six years, but only provides funding for three of those years.

Without any deal, states could take a major hit on the infrastructure projects they already have underway.

“I have to stop somewhere about 350 road projects immediately. It would cost us about $1.2 billion immediately,” Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe said Saturday. “It would be a disaster.”

Martin Valent / West Virginia Legislative Photography

It’s too late in the session for Senators to approve a bill that would increase dollars committed to the state Road Fund, but members on both sides of the aisle say they are prepared to commit to a study of the issue. 

Sen. Bob Plymale of Wayne County introduced Senate Bill 478 nearly a month ago, which would do just that. The bill proposes increasing revenues for road construction by upping the gasoline and consumer sales taxes and raising Division of Motor Vehicle fees that haven’t been touched since the 1970s.

Paul Mattox
Janet Kunicki / West Virginia Public Broadcasting (File Photo)

The state portion of road funding comes from three sources- the gasoline tax, registration fees and a tax on newly purchased vehicles.

Secretary of the Department of Transportation Paul Mattox predicts those revenue sources will remain consistent over the next five years, but findings from the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Highways say to maintain and expand the current system, the state would need an additional $1.3 billion each year.

So, members of the Senate Committee on Transportation are looking for ways to meet that projected need.