Financing transport should not be a political issue | Grayson County

Kentucky residents are feeling the pressure of inflation. From food to fuel to housing, many of our fellow citizens are facing more financial hardship than ever before. Fortunately, our elected officials are looking for solutions to help Kentuckians through these difficult times. While we welcome holistic approaches to help reduce the financial burdens that many of us face, the success and long-term impact of any potential financial relief measure must be considered.

Governor Andy Beshear recently made headlines for his executive order that suspended an automatic two-cent gas tax increase that would have taken effect July 1. While we appreciate the Governor’s intention, we do not want to lose sight of the importance of the gas tax — a user fee — and the need for adequate and sustained funding for roads and bridges in the commonwealth. Meeting transportation infrastructure needs is at the heart of what the government intends to do for its citizens.

By preventing the two-cent increase in July, the average Kentuckian will save about a dollar a month at the pumps. The road fund, however, is expected to lose more than $35 million in lost revenue through the end of January and up to $60 million a year, if the General Assembly extends the suspension when it meets in January. This is a remarkable number considering the infrastructure needs across the state. And this does not only have an impact on the financial results of the State. A portion of that lost revenue, about $9 million, was supposed to be directed to local governments, on which cities and counties depend heavily to repair and maintain local infrastructure.

In the 1980s, the Kentucky General Assembly created the current funding structure, putting in place automatic triggers to raise the gas tax based on price. This mechanism has been used successfully for more than 40 years. If our elected officials want to set a new precedent and move away from the current highway funding structure outlined in Kentucky law, we must consider a new, modernized structure instead of short-term fixes that chronically underfund maintaining and improving Kentucky’s transportation system.

Let’s take this opportunity in this time of need to commit to long-term change that will help Kentuckians at the pumps while adequately funding our infrastructure needs. The General Assembly took the first step in the 2022 legislative session by establishing charges for electric vehicles, and we applaud this action. Electric vehicles appear to be the mode of transportation of the future, and we need to plan accordingly to develop an infrastructure funding plan to meet our future needs. However, there is still work to be done, and we look forward to working with the Governor and Legislature to ensure Kentucky has the best transportation infrastructure system in the nation.

Transport funding should not be a political issue. Every Kentucky resident depends on our infrastructure, whether through direct use or for the delivery of goods and services, and every day, our infrastructure brings billions of dollars in business to the state. It’s time to find a real, long-term solution to properly fund our transportation system in Kentucky, one that brings meaningful change for our Commonwealth. We look forward to working with and supporting our state leaders during this time of modernizing transportation funding to move Kentucky forward.

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