State and Province News March 2013
Buffalo Crushed Stone donated approximately 40 tons of large rocks to the Clarence Nature Center. The Clarence Bee reports that the rock will be used to accommodate markers and mark trail entrances. Nearly 3,000 students from Clarence schools have visited the nature center and hiked those trails.
A recent report from Portland Auditor LaVonne Griffin-Valade blasts the transportation department, noting that the city’s transportation revenues have risen, but spending on maintenance programs has dropped. According to the Portland Business Journal, she notes that “this reduction in maintaining key infrastructure places the city’s long-term fiscal sustainability at greater risk.” She called for a new overall transportation strategy. The department’s head was slated to resign in February at the request of Mayor Charlie Hales. “This is the appropriate time to take stock of Portland’s street maintenance situation since estimates through 2016-17 show revenues from both gas taxes and parking continue to rise,” Griffin-Valade wrote.
Governor McDonnell’s transportation funding plan, Virginia’s Road to the Future, is picking up support from numerous groups throughout the state. The plan eliminates a 17.5 cent per gallon sales tax and replaces it with an 8/10 of 1 percent increase in the state sales tax. According to a website dedicated to the plan, it will invest more than $3.1 billion above existing revenues over the next five years for Virginia’s highways, transit systems, rail networks, airports, and port. Investments totaling $2.75 billion into the Commonwealth Transportation Fund will include $500 million per year by FY 2019 to eliminate maintenance crossover and an additional $1.8 billion in new construction during the next five years, $500 million more for state transit needs, and $273 million more for state passenger rail. If passed, the plan would also invest an additional $309 million in K-12 public education and provide $137.8 million for localities to use at their discretion.
In late January, the Wisconsin Transportation Finance and Policy Commission issued a 162-page report that called for additional funding for the state’s transportation needs, The Bond Buyer reports. “Without additional funding for Wisconsin’s transportation programs over the next decade, network conditions and safety will deteriorate, and system needs will grow in all modes,” the report notes. “The state’s decades-old transportation funding model is not keeping pace with current or future needs. The state has chosen to address its transportation funding shortfall with increased debt through bond issuance — a path that is unsustainable over the long term.” The report calls for raising at least $387 million and suggests raising the state gas tax by 5 cents per gallon, creating a new mileage-based registration fee for passenger vehicles and increasing heavy truck registration fees. It also suggests increasing driver license fees by $20 and eliminating the sales tax exemption on vehicle trade-ins.
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