Charleston Gazette-Mail, Transport Topics – Legislation to increase highways funding by more than $290 million a year — primarily through increasing the state sales tax from 6 percent to 7 percent — is headed to a West Virginia House of Delegates that has proven adverse to tax hikes. Read
However, Mike Clowser, of the state Contractors Association and a member of Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Highways, said Wednesday that he’s hopeful the House will accept at least a portion of that increase to help fix the state’s deteriorating roads.
“Every House member I’ve talked to is serious about creating jobs, and they’re getting the same phone calls from constituents about the roads that the senators have gotten,” he said.
On Wednesday, the Senate passed the highways funding bill (SB 555) on a 25-9 vote without discussion.
As initially drafted, the bill simply would have increased the wholesale tax on gasoline by 3 cents a gallon during years when retail gas prices drop below $2 a gallon. That would raise about $30 million in those years, partially offsetting revenue losses when the wholesale tax automatically readjusts downward in years when gas prices are low.
However, the Senate on Tuesday significantly amended the bill, adding the 1 percent sales tax, to raise about $200 million a year, along with increases in DMV fees — most of which have not changed since the 1970s — to raise $66 million a year, and a recalculation of the state privilege tax on vehicle sales, to raise $17 million a year.
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