During a casual conversation with a member, he mentioned that he filled up his tank for $1.33 per gallon. He noted that it felt nice on his wallet, but that when he pulled out of the gas station he immediately hit a huge pothole.
After listening to the Budget Review Subcommittee on Transportation testimony earlier this week, I believe his experience will become more common than we'd like to think.
On Tuesday, KYTC Acting Secretary Mike Hancock and the Executive Director of the KYTC Office of Budget and Fiscal Management, Robin Brewer, presented the proposed transportation budget. The proposed budget, which can be found here, reflects the decline in anticipated road fund revenues due to the decrease in the motor fuels tax rate. The Cabinet's presentation was immediately followed by a presentation from Charles Lovorn and Chad LaRue with the Kentucky Association of Highway Contractors who noted their industry's concerns with the declining revenues and presented some options to restore the road fund to previous levels.
During the meeting, Rep. Dennis Keene (D-67) noted that our transportation network is part of economic development and that without a good transportation network, we won't be able to keep or continue to attract new companies to Kentucky.
Our transportation network - which includes our airports, railroads, riverports, transit providers, and our local road and highway network - is an essential part of economic development. It provides an opportunity for our manufactures to move freight efficiently and it provides a way for our employees to get to work.
If we don't maintain and improve our transportation network, we will lose one of Kentucky's important competitive advantages. Our state's borders are within 600 miles of more than 60% of the nation's population and wealth centers. Our transportation network aids in the distribution of goods and materials to a massive industrial and consumer market.
With the reduced road fund revenues, how will we maintain our existing roads and build the new ones our communities so desperately need? How will we patch the potholes and build bridges so our manufacturers can move their freight to the greater marketplace? How will we improve our interchanges so our children can get to and from school safety? How will we create the corridors we need so the manufactures in our rural counties can access the greater freight network?
I don't know the answer, but I know that passage of enabling legislation for alternative funding mechanisms like P3's and LIFT during this session will help. We know the road fund will remain flat for a long time. Why not try to take advantage of other opportunities before it is too late?