Additional Funding for the Infrastructure Bank

Update: these two bills have been combined to form S.1258, which is an official committee bill. Under this bill, the two revenue streams (car taxes and DMV fees) would be directed into the state funded resurfacing program within the State Highway Fund. 

The DOT would then send a list of potential bridge & road projects (with certain qualifications) to STIB, which would submit the proposed projects to the Joint Bond Review Committee for approval.

Once the projects are approved, STIB would inform DOT how much money is needed to bond for the projects, and DOT would transfer the money to STIB out of the state funded resurfacing program funds. Any funds not being bonded would be used to fix potholes.

S.1228 amends the provision in Act 98 requiring 50 percent of the revenue from sales, use, and casual excise taxes from the sale, use, or titling of motor vehicles to go to the State Non-Federal Aid Highway Fund. Under this bill, 100 percent of that revenue would go to the State Highway Fund, and the DOT would be required to transfer an equal amount to the Transportation Infrastructure Bank (STIB).

The bill also specifies that the transferred money come from non-tax sources. This is due to the fact that revenue from tax sources cannot be bonded according to state law. The first $50 million of this revenue would go to bridge replacement, rehabilitation projects, and expansion and improvements on existing roads. Any leftover funds would go to existing mainline interstate expansion and improvements.

Funds transferred under this law could not be used for projects approved by the STIB before July 1, 2013. Finally, projects using these funds would not require a local match.

S.1237 is a similar bill allocating various fees collected by the Department of Motor Vehicles, such as driver’s license fees, etc. directly into the state highway account of the STIB rather than leaving them in the DMV.

It cannot be emphasized enough that the STIB is an unaccountable legislative fiefdom that should be completely eliminated. It is completely unaccountable, controlled by a select few, and it finances projects by bonding out state funds, creating billions of dollars of debt.

The STIB has historically been concerned with road expansion rather than maintenance, and this bill provides no guarantee that these new funds won’t simply be used for expansion, as the bill expressly allows these new funds to be used for expansion and improvements to existing roads and mainline interstates.

In short: this provision, rather than guaranteeing needed repairs, may be providing funds simply to expand our already enormous and enormously expensive highway system. The proper way to deal with the STIB is to eliminate it, not to fund it further.

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