By James DeChene
The State House of Representatives today took the first official step in reaching a proposed $100 million total infrastructure deal. Tasked by Governor Markell to find $50 million, the first bill in a package of legislation was heard in, and released from, the House Revenue and Finance Committee.
Why is this important? Delaware’s infrastructure is suffering from a lack of investment over the years due to a number of factors, including a tough economy, cars and trucks getting better fuel mileage (less gas tax paid at the pump), and the number of projects outstripping overall funding (DELDOT faces a $800 million shortfall over the next 5 years as projects continue to pile up).
The money in the state Highway Trust fund goes to more than just roads. All projects undertaken by DELDOT are funded through the HTF, including rail, bridge, road and drainage pipe work, among others.
HB 140 raises $23 million in new revenue by raising .5% the fee paid on the sale of automobiles, along with a range of DMV fee increases. The bill will be heard on the floor tomorrow, where it will be voted on by the House. The next steps, if passed, are to go through the Senate committee and floor vote, where it will be signed by the Governor.
2 remaining pieces are awaiting action, including the transfer of DELDOT operating expenses out of the Highway Trust Fund and into the General Fund, as well as some sort of tax on gasoline, either at the wholesaler level, or at the pump.