With a focus on safety and improving Kentucky’s roads and bridges to help advance economic development in the state, Rep. Sal Santoro says the legislature is working to do more than ever for infrastructure funding but changes must be made for the future to keep Kentucky competitive.
The state House passed bills dealing with the state’s next two-year road plan Wednesday, sending them to the Senate.
Santoro said the House version of the road fund plan is based on three main priorities: the safety of Kentucky’s citizens, pavement management, and economic development. He stated the maintenance of the state’s bridges is a key component of the plan as 111 of the state’s bridges throughout 103 of Kentucky’s 120 counties are deemed structurally deficient, an issue he wanted to see addressed in the next two-year road fund.
The plan, Santoro said, includes more funding for pavement management than has been seen in past budgets with $365 million for the maintaining of Kentucky’s roads and correction of issues like potholes across the state (discussion at 3:00).
In terms of economic development, Santoro noted the importance of good infrastructure to business in the state and those looking to locate in Kentucky as they need quality roads and bridges to transport their products (discussion at 4:00).
“We are going to make sure that when these companies think about coming to Kentucky, they know that their legislature will be ready for them,” Santoro said.
“We think it is a good, sound plan. We are hoping the Senate builds on that. We want to make sure the people of Kentucky know that when they pay for gasoline, they are going to see something happen,” Santoro said.
On the subject of the state’s gas tax being used for transportation funding, Santoro also has a bill to ensure it has the money it needs to build and maintain quality infrastructure across the state.
With the increasing number of electric and fuel-efficient cars, the amount of revenue generated for road funding is dwindling as the state’s gas tax plays a large role in that funding. Meanwhile, many of Kentucky’s surrounding states are increasing their gas tax by large amounts to deal with the issue.
To deal with this problem in Kentucky, Santoro is sponsoring a bill to modernize the formula for this funding which would include a small increase in the gas tax and a fee for electric car owners collected when they register the vehicle.
Santoro said he hopes to see the legislation move this session as he said “it is a shame if we don’t do something now” with the problem continuing to get worse.