A massive transportation bill has unanimously cleared the Senate Appropriations Committee with some major changes. The committee approved a slate of amendments offered by Chair Luke Kenley (R-20), which include removing a proposed gas sales tax increase and indexing that would’ve gone with it. The changes also cut a tolling feasibility study for Interstates 65, 70, and 80/94. House Bill 1001 heads to the full Senate.
Kenley’s amendments also trim out income tax reductions that were added by the House the first time through. The amended version of the bill also includes a $50 supplemental registration fee for hybrid vehicles.
Senator Karen Tallian (D-4) says the bill has some good points, but doesn’t go far enough to address local road funding needs, which she says we need "right now." Tallian did laud the idea of removing the tax cuts and pointed to additional tax breaks not included in this bill that she feels should be nixed.
The bill’s author is Representative Ed Soliday (R-4). He also chairs the House Transportation Committee and calls the amended bill a "solid building block" for what will be a highly scrutinized piece of legislation. Soliday says he never imagined a catch-all bill could be crafted in one session. He adds that he believes more discussion on road and bridge funding will go on beyond the next two years.
The bulk of the funding will come from state budgetary reserves. A bump in the state’s cigarette tax to nearly $2 would also be used to pay for improvements.
The author, Representative Ed Soliday (R-4), says the bill is the culmination of a five-year cooperative effort between the chambers.
Senator Karen Tallian (D-4) is one of the bill’s co-sponsors. She voted in favor of the legislation, but says it represents missed opportunities.