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State mulls gas tax hike to fill KDOT funding gap

By Brian Heap
Published On: May 14 2014 01:37:22 PM CDT
Updated On: May 14 2014 05:23:24 PM CDT
(WICHITA, Kan.) -

The National Highway Trust Fund is on the verge of running out of money by August, leaving Kansas transportation officials to mull solutions, including a possible increase in the gasoline tax.

President Obama's administration has proposed a four year, $302 million dollar funding plan, but there is question whether congress will act quickly enough on the bill to avoid seeing the existing trust fund run dry.

"If congress doesn't fix this again -- like they've done in the past -- we would run into some problems in Kansas," says Kansas Department f Transportation spokesman Tom Hein.

Hein says the state has enough money to run KDOT for "a few months" but the federal money will be needed long term.

One solution being discussed by KDOT is a $.22 per gallon increase in the state gasoline tax.  That's about how much revenue would be needed to make up for the loss of federal money. 

Hein acknowledges a gas tax hike would be unpopular with drivers already fed up with the cost of fuel.

The bill presented by the Obama administration also gives new authority to states to collect tolls on federal highways.  

Hein says these funding dilemmas are all too common, but always work themselves out.  In the past, congress has been content to provide only patch work solutions.

"Long term we need to find a plan for funding transportation."

The federal gasoline tax has held steady at $.18 per gallon since 1993.  Hein says those dollars don't keep up with inflation and cars are more fuel efficient than ever, making the pool of money insufficient.

Concerned Kansans may consider calling their representatives in the U.S. House and Senate and pressure them for a solution.

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