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Lawmakers to Tinker with Transportation Funding

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Scott Schrantz
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Flickr Creative Commons
Lawmakers say there's a multi-billion-dollar backlog for road projects and there ought to be a better way to pay for them. They're expected to consider legislation in the upcoming General Session.

State lawmakers have been saying for years that Utah needs a better way to pay for roads, highways and transit. Lately they’ve started talking about exactly how to do that.

  Johnny Anderson, R-Taylorsville, has got plans for legislation to change the way Utahns pay for highway projects. As head of the House Transportation Committee, Anderson says user fees like the gas tax should pay for projects -- not general government funds.

“The main goal of the House of Representatives,” he says, “is to fix that fuel tax so that it doesn’t continue to put pressure on the general fund.”

Anderson says this will mean the dollars available for transportation will keep up with Utah’s needs. The state’s current gas tax is 24.5 cents per gallon. It would need to be 36 cents a gallon to have the same value as it did the last time lawmakers raised the gas tax in 1997.

“The House of Representatives is not proposing any state increase in the gasoline tax this year,” he insists. “What we are proposing is to convert the cents-per-gallon fuel tax into a percentage-based type of tax.”

Anderson is hopeful, but he knows the competition will be stiff from those who want more spending on education and water projects.

Plus, it’s unclear what the Senate might agree to.

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