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Archive for Wednesday, May 8, 2002

Representative eyes increase in transportation funding

Senate-passed legislation heading to conference committee

May 8, 2002

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— A $434 million transportation funding plan passed by the Senate is too small to suit a key House member, who hopes negotiations will produce a larger package.

Approved by the Senate on a 21-18 vote Tuesday, the measure would raise motor fuel taxes and vehicle registration fees to help finance the state's comprehensive transportation program.

The House rejected a larger funding package last week, but supporters said the 65-56 vote against it was close enough that they would try to pass it again.

At the request of Rep. Gary Hayzlett, the House agreed to send the Senate measure to a conference committee to draft a final version.

Hayzlett, chairman of the House Transportation Committee, wants a measure that would generate more than the $434 million that the Senate bill would be expected to produce.

"We want to shore up some of the funding and make the plan more effective," said Hayzlett, R-Lakin. "We're certainly going to conference, and we'll work as quickly as we can."

Last week, the House rejected a plan to increase sales and motor fuels taxes and vehicle registration fees in stages over three years, raising $62 million in the next fiscal year and $168 million by the plan's third year.

Hayzlett suggested adding a sales tax increase to the Senate's proposal, to bring the compromise bill closer to the House plan.

"We won't get all of it," Hayzlett said. "But we need to get more of it."

The House can start negotiations even though it hasn't approved a transportation plan of its own.

The measure the Senate approved originally was a House-passed bill addressing a sales tax in one county. Last week, a Senate committee stripped it of that language and made it a vehicle for transportation funding.

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