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Introduced Version - Originating in Committee Senate Concurrent Resolution 54 History

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SENATE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION NO. 54

(By Senator Klempa, D. Facemire, Kirkendoll, Tucker and Barnes)

 

[Originating in the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure]

 

 

Requesting the Joint Committee on Government and Finance to study the need for alternative revenue mechanisms for the development and maintenance of state roads and highways and identify the most promising road usage fee collection implementation options to evaluate in a pilot project or projects.

    Whereas, An efficient and effective transportation system is critical for West Virginia's economy and quality of life; and

    Whereas, Continued efficiency and effectiveness depend on a stable and reliable source of revenue to fund the system's maintenance, operation, preservation and improvements; and

    Whereas, The motor vehicle fuel tax has been a fundamental means of paying for state and federal roads, and, until recently, these taxes have been an adequate and stable source of revenue; and

    Whereas, Since 1980, with gradual gains in average vehicle fuel economy, vehicle miles traveled have doubled while fuel consumption itself has increased by just half, and long-range projections for fuel consumption and vehicle miles traveled from the Energy Information Administration (EIA) suggest that this trend will continue; and

    Whereas, Changing conditions in the fuel market since the year 2000 have driven changes in consumers' tastes in the vehicle market, with a shift toward vehicles with superior fuel economy and vehicles that rely on alternative fuels; and

    Whereas, Because the average individual vehicle miles traveled is expected to grow faster than fuel consumption in the coming decades, alternative funding mechanisms based on alternative funding sources, such as vehicle miles traveled, for roads and highways should provide a more stable source of revenue; and

    Whereas, According to EIA projections, federal fuel tax revenue, assuming current per-gallon rates, should increase by about ten percent between 2015 and 2030, growing from $36 billion to $39 billion (2009 dollars); and

    Whereas, If, instead, fuel taxes were replaced with an alternative funding source, such as fees based on vehicle miles traveled, in 2015 at an initially revenue-neutral rate, receipts should increase by thirty-three percent over the same period, growing from $36 billion to $47 billion; and

    Whereas, Other states and the federal government face the same difficulty of stagnating fuel tax revenues; a number of other states have embarked on pilot projects and other efforts over the last decade to evaluate potential new systems for the assessment and collection of taxes or fees for the use of a transportation system; and such efforts have shown that new systems to assess a fee based on usage of state and local roads are indeed technologically feasible today; and

    Whereas, West Virginia should examine the governance structure and groundwork needed to adopt an alternative source of revenue collection for road development and maintenance that will supplement the current system of motor vehicle fuel taxation, including the need for a study, conducted by the Commissioner of Highways, to guide the first stages of the transition, focusing on determining the feasibility and optimal methods of implementation for a road user assessment; and

    Whereas, Such study should include research and review of relevant reports, data, and efforts in other states and at the federal level with regard to models of assessment and methods of transitioning to an alternative system of paying for West Virginia roads and highways and analyze the research to identify issues for policy decisions in West Virginia; and

    Whereas, The result of such study should include recommendations on the design for a pilot project or projects; and

    Whereas, The study, in arriving at its recommendations, may need to determine and apply criteria for identifying the most promising road usage fee collection implementation options to evaluate in a pilot project, identify uncertainties that would need to be resolved in order to develop a technically feasible and cost-effective system of road use fee collection, and propose legislation that would enable the conduct of a pilot program or programs; and

    Whereas, In order to assist in making recommendations, the Department of Highways may need to participate in studies and limited pilot projects to test technical feasibility that can be accomplished within existing resources; therefore, be it

    Resolved by the Legislature of West Virginia:

    That the Joint Committee on Government and Finance is hereby requested to study the need for alternative revenue mechanisms for the development and maintenance of state roads and highways and identify the most promising road usage fee collection implementation options to evaluate in a pilot project or projects; and, be it

    Further Resolved, That the Joint Committee on Government and Finance report to the regular session of the Legislature, 2013, on its findings, conclusions and recommendations, together with drafts of any legislation necessary to effectuate its recommendations; and, be it

    Further Resolved, That the expenses necessary to conduct this study, to prepare a report and to draft necessary legislation be paid from legislative appropriations to the Joint Committee on Government and Finance.

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