Where's the Beef? Where's the Bill?

Sunday is the Super Bowl.

Like lots of people I know, I won't be watching to cheer on a team. I'll be watching for the commercials.

The commercials provide something to talk about the next day - and there's always a review of the most popular, memorable commercials. The commercial that I remember most is the 1984 Wendy's commercial. You know the one - she kept asking "Where's the Beef?!"

And, during this especially interesting Legislative session, that sounds similar to what lots of people are saying to me lately - only instead of "Where's the Beef?" I'm hearing "Where's the Bill?!"

Everyone wants to know how we're going to address our infrastructure funding needs? Is there a bill?

And the answer is - well - it's complicated.

And that's frustrating.

And I understand the frustration. After all, as an industry, we know that we need hundreds of millions of dollars per year to maintain our existing infrastructure and build new, desperately needed infrastructure.

Not knowing whether or not those funds will be available makes it nearly impossible to plan for the future. Should we hire employees or should we plan to downsize? Should we apply for the grants to get new buses or should we wait? Should we plan to make minor repairs - or can we go ahead and make a major improvement? Will the money be there and available?

This past Tuesday, I was honored to be asked to present some information to the House Working Group on Transportation, chaired by Representative Sal Santoro (R-60) and Representative John Simms (D-70), that will hopefully help encourage more discussion on the transportation infrastructure issue and a long term solution to the significant funding challenges we face today.

What did I say?

I reminded the Working Group how important infrastructure is to our economy and how impactful infrastructure is to the quality of life of our citizens and to the economic development of our state. I reminded them how much money was needed to address our maintenance issues and what would be needed for construction.

And then I proposed some solutions. Those solutions are:

  1. Create a multi-modal transportation fund using General Fund dollars to address our transit needs, rail crossing issues, riverport maintenance and construction needs, and airport maintenance and construction needs.
  2. Modernize the motor fuels tax to recover the $200 million lost on an annualized basis due to the decrease in the AWP and increase the current tax rate to address immediate maintenance needs.
  3. Create a new index for the tax rate that guarantees the revenues needed for the next 10 years.
  4. Modernize other fees administered by KYTC.
  5. Reduce revenues diverted from the road fund for other purposes to recover at least $65 million per year.
  6. Establish a fee for electric and hybrid vehicles.

This week, I can't ask you to call your Legislator and vote for a specific bill. But I can ask you to call them and encourage them to address our funding issues.

And if your Legislator asks "Where's the bill?" know that you can respond by saying "Here's the issue."