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Vote to freeze gas tax will be coming soon, House speaker says




FRANKFORT

A looming dip in the state’s gas tax likely won’t come to fruition.

Lawmakers have said a legally mandated drop of 4 cents per gallon would leave the state without nearly enough money to pay for road projects.

“We’re going to have to step up and do something about the 4 cents that we will lose without further action of the General Assembly,” Gov. Steve Beshear, a Democrat, told reporters Tuesday. “The road fund is in pretty dire straits right now, and if you lose those 4 cents it would put it in a situation to where, for the foreseeable future, you wouldn’t be able to even maintain roads much less build any new ones.”

Lawmakers have been negotiating behind closed doors for weeks on a new state road construction plan. Legislative leaders who have been part of the talks have been tightlipped about the proposal, which would spell out new Kentucky road and bridge projects authorized by the legislature.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo, a Prestonsburg Democrat, said rank-and-file House lawmakers are expected to get a briefing on the proposal Wednesday. Votes on the plan and the move to prevent the drop in the price of gasoline could come later this week, Stumbo said.

The tax is set to drop by 4 cents per gallon because of a change in the wholesale price. Kentucky’s state tax on gasoline right now is 22.5 cents per gallon, while the federal tax is 18.4 cents per gallon.

Not keeping the current tax in place could mean a drop in revenue of about $130 million.

Beshear said he supports the move to freeze the tax at its current rate. Republican Senate President David Williams of Burkesville has said the loss of revenue for road construction by not freezing the tax would be “catastrophic.”

“The votes will be there to pass the road plan and to pass the funding for it,” Beshear said.


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