The Wyoming Department of Transportation may be one of the state agencies that benefits from the better than expected earnings Wyoming brought in this fiscal year. The state’s general fund is about $333 million over what the Consensus Revenue Estimating Group, or CREG, predicted.
Governor Matt Mead says he’s gone through WYDOT’s budget once, but may review it again.
A bill that would raise the gas tax by ten cents has passed the House Revenue Committee. Revenue from the increased taxes would fund highway construction and maintenance throughout the state, a sector that’s currently underfunded.
Chairman of the House Revenue Committee, Michael Madden, says the measure is supported by many groups.
"About every engine that makes our economy run, we had strong support for this bill. And the overall gist of the thing was that Wyoming runs on roads and it’s too important of an asset to watch deteriorate. "
In the last several years, states have received fewer federal dollars for highways. During the energy boom the legislature made up for the shortfall by providing periodic funding for construction and maintenance.
But the Wyoming Department of Transportation wants long term and stable funding. After spending the summer looking at the issue, a legislative committee could only agree on one substantial plan, a ten cent increase in the state gas tax. Wyoming Public Radio’s Bob Beck has more.
This week the Legislature’s Joint Revenue committee agreed to submit a bill to the legislature that would increase the gas and diesel tax by ten cents a gallon, raising the tax to 24 cents. The money would go to the Wyoming Department of Transportation and local governments to pay for road construction.
Due to decreases in federal funding, the legislature has been forced to find other money to pay for roads. But with the downturn in energy prices, less money will be available in the future.