Every two years when the Kentucky General Assembly appropriates state highway funds, legislators are in a position to fight for dollars that go towards projects in their districts. I work with our local elected officials to determine priorities. During the past two weeks, I had the opportunity to vote for and support a state highway plan that includes funding for projects that are critical to Meade and Hardin Counties.
For Meade County, the new two-year plan includes $40.82 million for essentially two projects—the reconstruction of KY 79 and finishing the KY 313 extension from the Buck Grove Connector to KY 38. Another $19.5 million is in the House plan to finish the KY 79 project in the next budget cycle two years from now.
The funding formula and tax structure for highway dollars is complicated because the revenue comes from three different sources by way of gasoline tax receipts. The state’s gas tax supplies funding for more than half of the state-funded projects.
Wholesale price calculations are utilized in the formula and they periodically hit a ceiling as prices rise and fall. In a bi-partisan vote in 2009, the General Assembly last set the floor and if the General Assembly did not act this session, we would have seen prices fall, while not benefitting the taxpayers and hurting us back home. In essence, the oil companies would have recognized higher profits, while Kentucky’s road fund would fall significantly.
There has been a lot of misinformation about the highway fund plan and raising taxes, but my vote to support the highway plan was made in the best interest of our citizens at home and to protect the critical funding that was already in the Governor’s budget that I supported. Had we not acted to protect the floor of the wholesale formula, Meade County alone would have lost $200,000 a year from the road fund. After a hard winter we are left with many potholes and a low salt supply; we could not afford to lose road funds.
The people of Kentucky count on a road plan that moves us forward and the House highway plan makes it possible to continue on a path towards progress.