Jim Tracy road show: A 3-year window for legislators to ‘step up’

From the Columbia Daily Herald:

State Sen. Jim Tracy, R-Shelbyville, hosted a hearing this week at Columbia State Community College for Maury County officials, stressing the need for the General Assembly to start taking steps in transportation tax reforms.

According to projections based on current incoming funds, legislators will have about a three-year window to act before the Department of Transportation will be unable to fund new roads, Tracy said.

“I think we are in a crucial stage,” Tracy said. “We are going to get to the point where we are not even going to get enough revenue just to do the maintenance.”

Principal Legislative Research Analyst Susan Mattson of the Tennessee Comptroller Office and Tennessee Infrastructure Alliance Chairman Bill Moore gave presentations… (Mattson) presented a number of options that legislators could use to increase funds to TDOT, including raising tax rates of fuels, indexing the tax rates of fuels to the rate of inflation or the price of fuel and applying a sales tax to fuel purchases.

Other routes of creating revenue include installing tolls, developing a mileage-based tax system and the use of debt financing through general obligation bonds and public-private partnerships.

…The meeting was the second of nine hearings Tracy will host between now and the end of October, taking place across the state from Memphis to Kingsport, in discussion of funding the Volunteer State’s roads.

“The pressure is on with the growth that we are receiving,” Tracy said considering both Middle Tennessee and the state as a whole. “There really is no magic formula. We are going to have to step up as legislators and try to come up with solutions and get the votes to do that.”

State Reps. Shelia But, R-Columbia, and Barry Doss, R-Leoma, were both present at the meeting.

“I think we have to educate people on how our roads are built and how we have paid for them over the years, how we have no debt on our roads in the state of Tennessee and we are going to do everything we can to stay on that pathway. We don’t want to use our money just for servicing debt on our roads,” Butt said after the presentations.