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Archive for Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Kansas officials say transportation projects could be delayed if federal gas tax isn’t renewed — and soon

August 30, 2011, 12:09 p.m. Updated August 31, 2011, 1:40 a.m.

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— Kansas could be forced to halt, delay or cancel transportation projects if Congress doesn’t reauthorize a federal gasoline tax for highways, a state transportation official said Tuesday.

The 18.3 cent federal gasoline tax is set to expire on Sept. 30 unless Congress votes to renew it. The money is the main federal revenue source given to states to help pay for transportation projects.

Deputy Secretary Jerry Younger said Kansas has enough cash on hand in its highway program to keep existing projects going for 16 to 24 weeks. After that, the state would be forced to halt work on projects, delay awarding bids for new projects or cancel them.

Many of the projects were part of a 10-year program that started in 2010.

“If funding doesn’t get authorized then there’s really no mechanism for the Federal Highway Administration to make disbursements to the states,” Younger said. “We’ve kind of had this on our radar screen for some time and have made contingency plans.”

There is no real sense of when — or if — Congress will vote on the tax once recess ends after Labor Day. Fiscal conservatives including Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, have increased pressure for the levy to be dropped altogether.

Younger said Kansas historically has paid about $8 million per week on ongoing projects. State taxes collected on the sale of gasoline in Kansas and registration fees provide funds for the state’s share.

Kansas has enough funds to get through the next 16 to 24 weeks before having to make decisions on halting projects or delaying the start of others.

Most of the new projects in the 2010 transportation program were designed to preserve the state’s road system, Younger said. If the federal money dries up, Kansas would scale back expansion or new construction projects and focus dollars on preserving other roads and bridges.

Younger said the state has already made changes in policies regarding snow removal and mowing, looking to change practices to save money. But he said those changes didn’t save the state enough money to complete all the projects scheduled over the next several years.

Proposals in Congress range from shifting a greater share of the burden to states for road projects to keeping revenues for the national highway trust fund flat.

“Obviously, Congress has its work cut out and not a whole lot of time,” Younger said. “It’s our hope and belief that something will be done. We can’t see anyone letting something this important going by the wayside.”

Comments

Thats_messed_up 2 years, 7 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

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kernal 2 years, 7 months ago

I don't think the Tea Party crowd is so out of touch with reality that they would not renew this tax. That tax money will help repair and rebuild roads damaged by Irene.

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autie 2 years, 7 months ago

Sam don't want no federal money. Federal money gots shoe strings on it. We can just pay for our own highway system. Now we can't do that with no state money neigher comes they broke to bad. Looks like we gonna raise your property tax at the local level just a bit more...gots to pay for them by passes and over passes and under passes. Sam says it will be all right once we get some faith based transportation going anyway.

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somedude20 2 years, 7 months ago

at least the rich fat cats have to pay this tax like the rest of us (unless they have no motor vehicle) unlike all the others that they are able to weasel out of. Why does this "jesus" thing always have to tell the repubs go after human rights and the poor and the weak and the sick and the old and young and the women, why can't the hey-zeus tell em to tax the rich, to help ones that they mess over so often?

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yourworstnightmare 2 years, 7 months ago

It is a tax, and therefore in the ideological world of the tea bagger, it must go.

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DRsmith 2 years, 7 months ago

Sorry Jerry, wouldn't break my heart.

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Keith Richards 2 years, 7 months ago

They hate taxes on the rich. If it is a regressive tax on the lower income people (Gas Taxes, Taxes on Groceries and necessary clothing) they are ALL for it!

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My_Life 2 years, 7 months ago

Tax the outrageous profits the refiners are raking in.

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geekin_topekan 2 years, 7 months ago

So we do want taxes? I thought the repubs and teabaggers hated taxes.

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