(Host) The heads of the Senate and House Transportation committees both agree that the state of Vermont will have to take steps to strengthen its transportation infrastructure without increasing the state gas tax.
The state is facing major challenges to repair its infrastructure – it’s estimated that 25 % of all roads are in very poor paving condition and 13 % of all interstate bridges have been identified as being structural deficient.
Speaking last night on VPR’s Switchboard program, Senate Transportation committee chairman Dick Mazza said he would oppose any effort to raise the state gas tax to provide more revenue for these projects:
(Mazza) “This is no time to talk about a gas tax when gasoline is two dollars and 30 or 40 cents a gallon this probably would have been possible a few years ago but you know it’s amazing gas can fluctuate at the pumps five ten cents a week but if you mention the gas tax it’s a very very dangerous road to go down and I don’t see the gas tax happening.”
(Host) Last year the House voted to raise the state gas tax but the Senate never approved the measure.
House Transportation chairman Richard Westman says he has no desire to take this approach again:
(Westmant) “I can only speak for the House and I think the House is very reluctant to do something that would not get anywhere and come out of it. People in the House felt burned last year and I think that that is fresh in people’s minds and probably not the right time.”
(Host) Westman and Mazza say the time has come for lawmakers to review whether or not it’s fair to ask the Transportation Fund to pay for a number of programs like the State Police.
They argue shifting these programs over to the state’s General Fund would free up a lot of revenue for transportation related projects.