@NCCapitol

@NCCapitol

Lawmakers mull options for highway funding

Posted February 20, 2013

— Lawmakers are looking at various options to address the growing shortfall in road-building funds in the state Department of Transportation.

The state gas tax generates much of the money for DOT, but with more fuel-efficient cars and an increasing number of hybrids and electric vehicles, the gas tax isn't getting the job done.

The gas tax, which is capped at 37.5 cents per gallon through June, generates the bulk of the state's $2 billion Highway Fund for road construction and maintenance and part of the $1 billion Highway Trust Fund for road improvements and loop highways.

"What we'll be doing (is) looking at other revenue streams, and there's a lot of them, Senate Transportation Committee Co-Chairman Bill Rabon said Wednesday.

The DOT faces a $60 billion gap between road needs and revenue over the next 30 years, and lawmakers said they want to find ways to fill at least a portion of that budget hole.

Some states are looking at user fees, such as one that taxes the number of miles driven instead of the amount of gas purchased.

Sen. Neal Hunt, R-Wake, said North Carolina might need to copy Virginia's approach.

Gas tax, gas pump NC gas tax running out of fuel to build highways

"A lot of people don't like what Virginia has done. They increased car registration fees (and) added a sales tax, an overall sales tax devoted to transportation," Hunt.

Hunt, who chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee, said he also believes it's time to reorganize how transportation funds are spent across the state.

"Direct more money toward urban congested areas," he said. "We'll be looking at distribution formulas. Hopefully, we can get more money where it's really needed."

Gov. Pat McCrory campaigned last fall on changing the state's priorities as to how and where limited transportation dollars are spent. He hasn't called for any shifts since taking office.

Rabon, R-Brunswick, said he is in no hurry to change the highway funding formula.

"We don't pick winners and losers. We try to treat everyone fairly," he said.

Union County resident Jackie Delapaz, who was in Raleigh Wednesday for a school field trip, said she believes it's time for a change in funding North Carolina road construction.

"I think the rural roads are pretty good. The cities, they need the loops and the bigger roads to handle the congestion," said Delapaz, who works in Mecklenburg County.

20 Comments

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  • kimberleyamiller Feb 21, 3:19 p.m.

    The statement that "The gas tax, which is capped at 37.5 cents per gallon through June" is just bogus!! When I got gas Tuesday and paid $3.60 per gallon it plainly stated on a sticker at the gas tank that we pay 57.55 cents tax per gallon of that 39.15 is NC Tax and 18.4 is Fed. And they are trying to say that they can't fund these projects because they aren't generating enough revenue? Come on now.

  • glarg Feb 21, 2:26 p.m.

    "an increasing number of hybrids and electric vehicles"

    Not buying it.

    There have been 14K Volts sold nationwide. That would show up as a rounding error.

    I would think that supply and demand is more of an issue. As gas prices goes up, people try to drive less, resulting less gas being purchased and taxed.

  • Nancy Feb 21, 1:50 p.m.

    "The whole point is that revenue for gas tax (and hence the amount people are paying) has fallen over the years as gas mileage has improved..."

    except, the method used for taxes on a gallon of gas in NC is based on .... the price of gas. It goes up twice a year, that more than has compensated for higher mpg cars.

    Then again, if the fund had not been raided routinely for other things for so many years, projects might actually have been completed on time and at lesser expense.

  • Grand Union Feb 21, 12:48 p.m.

    "So no matter how much you save, and scarifice to keep a little bit of money, they're gonna find a way to get it."

    Birth Death and taxes, pay unto Caesar what is due unto Caesar....etc
    Taxes is what stops us being Somalia, Civilization isn't free.

  • Grand Union Feb 21, 12:45 p.m.

    "We are fast approaching the point that we can't levy any more taxes because people are stretched to the limit. It's almost as if our state legislators hope gas prices continue to climb, which will limit gas consumption, which will increase pressure for them to levy even more taxes."

    The whole point is that revenue for gas tax (and hence the amount people are paying) has fallen over the years as gas mileage has improved.....simple and logical answer is simply to raise the gas tax so the it again brings in the required amount. That way every one that uses the roads pays for their use (apart from a few volt drivers and if that drives more folks to electric cars then so much the better)

  • Bendal1 Feb 21, 12:05 p.m.

    Subdivision streets get so little traffic on them, and hardly any heavy trucks (which tear up roads thousands of times faster than cars), that they often need little maintenance for decades.

    The same can't be said for rural roads, which allow heavy trucks to drive on them, bridges wash out or wear out, need widening or shoulder upgrades, and the occasional resurfacing. Right now the urban areas get the lion's share of funding anyway; look at Division 5 (which includes Wake and Durham Counties plus the counties north of them). The money is concentrated in Wake/Durham with very little going to anything else except interstate and major routes like the Wake Forest Bypass. Very rural counties get little to no funding now for their road needs.

  • tayled Feb 21, 11:22 a.m.

    How about this. Whenever there is an accident, under normal weather circumstances, there is almost always someone at fault. Why don't we assess an impact fee to the driver who is at fault in the wreck, over and above the insurance they will pay, for repairs associated with the wreck? Say, if a driver causes an accident that causes the DOT to have to make repairs to the roadway, why should they not have to pay for it? When I was growing up, if you broke it, you bought it, or at least paid for the damages.

  • Nancy Feb 21, 11:06 a.m.

    "The street in our small subdivision is over 30 years old and has never been resurfaced."

    My guess is those roads do not belong to the state but rather the county you live in, especially if you live in Wake. Subdivision roads are taken over by the county once they meet the county standards after the subdivision is built.

  • superman Feb 21, 10:52 a.m.

    The street in our small subdivision is over 30 years old and has never been resurfaced. How about making more roads toll roads. Let the people who use the roads pay for them. Why should I pay for a new road in Charlotte when my street has dozens of pot holes and asphalt unheavals?

  • Rebelyell55 Feb 21, 9:56 a.m.

    So no matter how much you save, and scarifice to keep a little bit of money, they're gonna find a way to get it.

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