First MO fuel tax increase since ’96 drops Friday, but refunds available

      On Friday, October 1, Missouri’s gas tax will increase for the first time in 25 years, but Missourians who don’t want to pay the increase have an option.

Representative Becky Ruth (Photo: Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

      The tax will increase by 2.5 cents October first, with more incremental increases every July 1 until it reaches a 12.5 total increase in 2025.  The Department of Transportation estimates the increase, when fully implemented, will generate another $460-million annually for the state’s roads and bridges.

      Those who don’t want to pay the increase will be able to apply for a refund.  The Department of Revenue has prepared a draft of the form that would be used, which can be viewed here.  A final version is expected to be available, either digitally or by paper copy, by the time applications can be accepted between July 1 and September 30 of next year. 

      Fuel purchased in Missouri for vehicles weighing less than 26,000 pounds is eligible for a refund.  House Transportation Committee Chairwoman Becky Ruth (R-Festus) said Missourians who want a refund will, “need to save [fuel] receipts in case they are audited, and there is a form that the Department of Revenue is providing for them to fill out,” said Ruth. 

      Ruth said she’s not concerned that letting people get back some of their tax dollars will hurt the overall goal, that of giving the Department of Transportation more funding to maintain the state’s roads and bridges.

      “I think this is a very fair provision.  If people are happy with the job that’s being one and they want to continue to invest in the roads and bridges, then they will leave their money there.  If they feel like they need to have that money back; they don’t think it’s fair, they need it for whatever reason, or maybe they’re just not happy with how the money is being spent or they don’t feel like MODOT’s doing a good job, they can request a refund of that new tax.”

      Ruth said the initial increase, which begins October 1, has been estimated at about $1 a month for the average Missouri driver. 

      “Once it’s fully phased in [the increase will be] right around $60 [per year].  Again, it depends upon how much you travel, how much gasoline you use,” said Ruth.

      Ruth said the Department has been running about $800-million behind what it needs for road work, per year.  The increase will cover a significant portion of that gap, and will also put Missouri in position to draw federal dollars from an anticipated infrastructure bill.

      “That federal infrastructure bill is an 80/20 match.  Otherwise we would not be in a position to have the match money to pull down those federal dollars … we’re talking about billions.  Roughly, Missouri is looking around $7-billion.  If we did not have this money to pull down that match, that money would end up going to other states.”

      Ruth said she was grateful for the bipartisan support this proposal received.  She thinks that is due, in part, to the refund provision, and to lawmakers recognizing a need for additional money for transportation.

      “I just look forward to seeing Missouri rise in terms of where we’re at in road funding:  having safer roads to travel on, roads that are in better condition.  Our investment in our infrastructure also helps to drive the economy and bring in new business,” said Ruth.

      The gas tax increase became law when Governor Mike Parson (R) signed Senate Bill 262, which passed out the House with a final vote of 104-52.

Texting while driving ban for all drivers proposed for 2020 legislative session

The House of Representatives will consider extending Missouri’s ban on texting while driving to drivers of all ages in the legislative session that begins January 8.

Representative David Evans (photo: Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

Missouri law only bans texting while driving for those 21 and younger.  House Bill 1290 would extend that ban to all drivers.  It would also allow local jurisdictions to enact their own laws and ordinances on the use of hand-held electronic communications devices.

Representative David Evans (R-West Plains) filed HB 1290.  He said it simply doesn’t make sense to ban only younger drivers from texting while driving.

“Being one of the older people with grandchildren I can honestly say my grandkids learned to use computers and start texting and typing as young as 2 or 3 whereas I’m still struggling to do so, and it would distract me far more to text and drive than I’m sure it would most 16, 17, 18 year olds today,” said Evans.

Evans said he wanted to propose what would be the “least intrusive” expansion of the texting while driving law.  After reviewing past legislation on the matter he chose to offer the same language as 2019’s House Bill 896, filed by Representative Rory Rowland (D-Independence).

“It’s really a safety issue.  It’s important to me as a parent, it’s important to me as a grandfather.  As a former judge, you see so many of these cases these days of folks that are distracted by driving.  One of the most time-consuming and distracting things you can do is look away and type,” said Evans.  “It’s an activity we need to regulate in some fashion.  I’m not going overboard here but simply saying hey, that extreme activity of texting and driving is something you’ve got to be more careful about and [the bill would] save lives and save accidents.”

The Department of Transportation backs extending the texting while driving ban to all drivers.  Nicole Hood, State Highway Safety and Traffic Engineer, said that would make roads safer for drivers and MoDOT workers.  The Department reports that since 2014, cell phone-related crashes in Missouri have increased by 31-percent, reaching nearly 2,500 last year.

“We continue to have record numbers of traffic fatalities.  For the past three years Missouri alone has had over 900 people that have been killed in traffic crashes and every one of those deaths affects a family and a community,” said Hood.  “Distracted driving, it can be a leading cause of some of these crashes, and using those cell phones and texting can definitely be a contributing factor.”

Similar legislation has received little or no attention from the legislature in recent years.  Evans said he will talk to House leaders soon in hopes of getting this bill some traction.

“It will save lives and it will save accidents, so I think it’s a good thing and I think leadership will see that,” Evans said.

Violations of Missouri’s texting while driving ban result in two-point violations against a driver’s license.  Accumulation of points can result in a license being suspended or revoked.

Bill rolling back vehicle inspection requirement signed into law

If you renew the license plates on your vehicle after August 28* you might not have to get it inspected, under a bill signed into law this month.

Representative J. Eggleston (photo: Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

Senate Bill 89 will extend from five to ten years the age of a vehicle before it must be inspected every two years, as long as it has fewer than 150,000 miles on it.

That provision was sponsored by Representative J. Eggleston (R-Maysville).  He had discussed vehicle inspections with a former representative who wanted to eliminate them altogether.  Eggleston initially thought that would go too far, but after doing some research, he felt that there was little connection between requiring regular inspections and ensuring that vehicles on the roads are safe.

“Come to find out that 35 states no longer make their citizens get their cars inspected at all, including all of the states that touch Missouri, and I was very surprised to learn that.  So that gave us the data we needed to dig in to compare the states that do have inspection programs to the states that don’t to see if there really is any safety correlation or not and I was very surprised to learn there really doesn’t seem to be much of a correlation,” said Eggleston.  “Over time we were able to settle on the fact that maybe we don’t want to get rid of the program but we could pare it back some and make it less of a hassle for Missourians, especially for cars that aren’t that old or haven’t been driven that much that, by and large, don’t end up with any mechanical-related accidents anyway.”

Eggleston said the change in law would apply to roughly half of the vehicles that currently would have to be inspected and a third of the total number of vehicles on the road today.

The proposal cleared both chambers, but was met with vocal opposition from some lawmakers who thought it would make Missouri roads less safe.  St. Louis representative Donna Baringer (D) said one can look at how many cars are on Missouri roads with expired temp tags to see that people won’t be responsible enough to get vehicle inspections.

“If people are not willing to even get a permanent plate or car insurance, they surely will not bother ever getting their car inspected.  I feel this is just one more thing that, unfortunately right now, citizens … don’t feel the responsibility,” said Baringer.  “It’s not just about protecting their safety in driving a car but it’s about protecting my safety, and so I think there’ll be more cars on the road that should not be on the road.”

Representative Donna Baringer (photo: Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

Baringer said she doesn’t think vehicles in states that don’t require inspections are as safe as those in states that do, regardless of what statistics might show.  She said she sees evidence of that daily in cars that cross into her St. Louis district from neighboring Illinois.

“As I was driving down 55 the other day the car next to me had Illinois plates.  It actually had tape holding the bumper together.  The tires were bald, and it hydroplaned around the corner,” said Baringer.  “Had it hit me that would’ve meant my life was in danger because they didn’t bother to put tires on their car, much less do anything but tape the parts that were falling off.  So it isn’t better in the states that don’t have the inspections.”

Eggleston thinks time will tell Missourians won’t be less safe under these changes to the inspection program.

“Cars have definitely improved in their safety features and their longevity since the days when the inspection program came about.  The program started with, actually, a federal mandate back in the ‘60s, but in the 1970s the federal government backed off of that and said they would leave it up to the states, and one-by-one from the ‘70s up until just a couple of years ago 35 states have gotten rid of their program altogether,” said Eggleston.  “What we’re doing to roll this back a little bit is not an unheard of thing, and I don’t anticipate any statistical change in safety at all.”

Eggleston’s original bill, HB 451, passed out of the House in March, 102-45.

SB 89 also includes provisions that require the revocation of the driver’s license of a person who hits a highway worker or emergency responder in a work or emergency zone; and require that all homemade trailers be inspected.

  • An earlier version of this story said the vehicle inspection law changes take effect January 1, 2020.  It was learned that provision was not included in SB 89, so the changes take effect August 28, 2019.

House budget committee considering $301-million bonding proposal for transportation

A plan to use $301-million in bonds to repair 215 of the state’s bridges is now in the hands of the House Budget Committee.

Senator Dave Schatz (photo: Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

Governor Mike Parson (R) proposed the original idea, which was revised in the Senate to lower the cost of interest on the bonds.  The Senate voted last month 26-7 to send it to the House.

The provisions of Senate Concurrent Resolution 14 would be triggered if the state accepts a federal grant to pay for replacement of the I-70 bridge over the Missouri River at Rocheport.

“I would not be advocating this proposal if it were not for the Rocheport bridge,” said the resolution’s sponsor, Senate President Pro-Tem Dave Schatz (R-Sullivan)“I think that is so critical to our state and to the movement of freight across this state.  That’s how important it is – for us to go down this path of bonding,”

Schatz told the committee that it would be up to the Department of Transportation whether to accept a federal Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) grant if it could receive enough in that grant to proceed with the Rocheport bridge project.

The state is asking for a grant of $172-million, but might get less.  Schatz said it would need to receive $50-million or more in order to build that bridge.

The issue some lawmakers expressed with the proposal is that it would require the use of money from the state’s General Revenue fund to pay down the bond debt.  GR money has never been used for transportation, and some lawmakers fear setting the precedent that it can be.

“I understand the immediate need.  I understand the importance of the Rocheport bridge … if that bridge were to fail that’s a national problem, but I think about what happens in this body 10, 20, 30 years from now,” said Kansas City representative Greg Razer (D).  “The last thing I want to see is for us to set a precedent where in future General Assemblies the people sitting in our seats right now decide which roads get built, when they get built … a member’s political weight in this building should not be deciding which roads get built and when.”

Representative Greg Razer (photo: Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

Schatz told Razer he agrees and he would prefer to increase the state’s gas tax, but he recalled that three previous transportation funding proposals have failed either before Missouri voters or in the legislature.

“I believe it’s critical for us to do something … not long term, I agree, [this] is not the right way to do this, but right now we have something before us that is critical in nature,” said Schatz.  “Four to six, or eight hour traffic delays on I-70 is unacceptable.”

Razer said in some way the legislature must find a long-term solution for transportation funding so the Department can make long-term plans and quit going deeper in debt for maintenance and upgrades.  In the meantime, he said he has a tough decision to make about SCR 14.

“I’m in a position now of what I consider two bad votes.   I vote, ‘Yes,’ and I’m voting to put us more into debt and opening up Pandora’s Box of GR.  I vote, ‘No,’ and we have eight hour backups on I-70.  That’s the position I’m in,” said Razer.

The committee has not voted on SCR 14.

House approves budget plan maintaining $100-million boost to transportation

The Missouri House has proposed a $29.2-billion state budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1.  Among other things it maintains Appropriations Committee Chairman Cody Smith’s (R-Carthage) plan to apply $100-million of General Revenue to road and bridge projects.  That would be in addition to the money in the state’s Road and Bridge Fund, which is dedicated to transportation.

House Budget Committee Chairman Cody Smith, R-Carthage (photo; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

If that proposal becomes law it would be the first time GR dollars have been used for transportation infrastructure.  Smith said the state’s road funding has been falling behind for years, and with other proposals to support it having fallen short – including a gas tax increase that was rejected by voters in November – it’s time to consider unprecedented sources.

He also said his plan is a better option than what Governor Mike Parson (R) proposed, to use bonds to support $350-million for bridge projects, which take years to pay off.

“Going further into debt comes at a high cost.  We already spend, on average, about 24-percent of the road fund on debt service as it is,” said Smith.  “This plan, paying as we go, could save us as much as $100-million over the course of 15 years, and it’s really that simple.”

Democrats say this approach creates uncertainty for the Department of Transportation, which wouldn’t know year-to-year how much money the legislature might decide to give it.

Kansas City representative Greg Razer (D) said the plan also would set a precedent that transportation would compete with other state priorities that are already funded with GR dollars, including education and medical care.

“The day will come when we have our director of transportation, people with disabilities, the presidents and chancellors of our universities all coming and trying to fight over the same pot of money,” said Razer.

Representative Greg Razer, D-Kansas City (photo; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

Razer and other Democrats said the state should not get away from using only the Road and Bridge Fund to support transportation.

“It’s something that has served us well for nearly a century,” said Razer.

Democrats say $100-million won’t go very far toward meeting the transportation infrastructure needs across the state.  Festus Republican Becky Ruth said a lot of options that have been considered might be short-term solutions.  She said this one would be a good start.

“Right now we have to do something, and that’s what the people of Missouri [have] asked us to do,” said Ruth.

“When our school busses are travelling on roads and crossing bridges and many of those bridges are in poor condition, I want you to stop and think about those children sitting on that school bus.  I want you to stop and think about the families driving in their car down the road.  I want you to stop and think about all of the people that use our highways day in and day out to get to their destinations – to go to work, to return from work – and they want to be able to do that safely,” said Ruth.

Smith said it is his intention to propose the use of General Revenue in future budget years to cover the projects that would’ve been paid for in the governor’s plan.  Each year, then, that would have to be decided upon by the General Assembly.

The 13 budget bills that make up the House’s spending plan now go to the State Senate, which will propose changes to it.  Then the two chambers will attempt to reach a compromise on a budget to be sent to the governor before the constitutional deadline of May 10.

House Budget head unveils road and bridge funding proposal as part of F.Y. ’20 budget

The Missouri House’s Budget Committee Chairman has unveiled his plan for paying for road and bridge work in the state, in place of the plan proposed by Governor Mike Parson (R) in January.

House Budget Committee Chairman Kip Kendrick (photo; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

Representative Cody Smith’s (R-Carthage) plan is to use a $100-million from the state’s General Revenue Fund to support the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP), which is the Department of Transportation’s plan for road and bridge improvements for the coming years.

Parson’s plan called for using $351-million in bonds to replace or repair 250 bridges throughout Missouri.  The bonding would have been paid back with about $30-million from the state’s General Revenue fund for 15 years.

Smith said it is important to focus on creating a plan that would funds transportation infrastructure but not put the state further into debt.

“We spend hundreds of millions of dollars in debt service every year … when we have an opportunity to make a similar impact on the bridges that have been identified as in need of repair over the course of four years and thereby save the state $100-million over 15 years I think we out to try to take that opportunity,” said Smith.

The Department has paid more than $700-million in debt payments in the last two years, and its average payment is $313-million a year.

Smith proposes spending $100-million in general revenue on roads and bridges in the next four years’ budgets or more.  That would be subject to the appropriation process in each of those years.  Smith potentially will be the House budget chairman throughout that time, and therefore would be in a position help make that happen.

State budget experts say General Revenue has never been used to pay for transportation infrastructure.  That is usually done with funds earmarked for that purpose.  Smith said it’s time to consider a fundamental change.

“The budget is a reflection of the state’s priorities and amongst those priorities should first be the core functions of government and I’d certainly put transportation infrastructure amongst the core functions of government,” said Smith.

Representative Kip Kendrick is the ranking Democrat on the House Budget Committee. (photo; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

Columbia representative Kip Kendrick is the top Democrat on the House Budget Committee.  He called Smith’s proposal bold and a part of a larger discussion about how Missouri’s transportation infrastructure should be paid for, but funding it with general revenue would pit it against other priorities supported by that fund, like K-12 and higher education.

“A hundred million dollars in general revenue, I believe, sets a potentially bad precedent.  I don’t know how you ever unwind that,” said Kendrick.  “I think we need to be looking at long-term solutions and dedicated funding streams to address our infrastructure problems at the state level.”

Smith said weighing the various priorities of the state against one another is the job of the legislature.

“That is exactly what we’re doing here.  We’re talking about how we prioritize transportation versus education versus public safety – that is the process that the General Assembly goes through and I think that’s a natural and appropriate process,” said Smith.

The Missouri Department of Transportation says it is about $8-billion short of being able to fund its transportation needs in the next decade.

Missouri voters in November rejected a 10-cents-per-gallon tax increase to pay for road and bridge work.

Smith’s plan is part of his proposed budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1.  He unveiled that plan Wednesday.  Over the coming weeks the House Budget Committee will propose changes to that plan, then send it to the full House for debate during the week of March 25-29.  Before the state budget is finalized it must be approved by both the House and the Senate, then the governor could approve, reject, or delay funding from it.

Gas tax increase goes from legislature to voters on November ballot

The legislature is asking voters whether they want to increase Missouri’s gas tax to pay for road and bridge work and to boost support of the Highway Patrol.

Representative Jean Evans (photo; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

The House voted 88-60 to complete passage of House Bill 1460.  It would ask voters in November whether to increase the state’s fuel tax by two-and-a-half cents a year for four years – a ten cent total increase by July, 2022.  The current tax is 17-cents per gallon.

If passed, projections are the increase would generate about $421-million when fully implemented.  $128-million would be for local governments for road construction and maintenance.  The remaining $293.3-million would be appropriated by the General Assembly between the Department of Transportation to be used solely for road and bridge work, and the Highway Patrol.

Representative Jean Evans (R-Manchester) sponsored HB 1460, which was amended by the Senate to include the gas tax proposal.

“This is a vote to allow the people of Missouri a vote on how they want to pay for roads and bridges, how they’d like to fund their law enforcement,” said Evans.  “Send this vote to the people.  This is a vote for freedom and for safety.”

Kansas City Democrat Greg Razer said he was glad to see the House considering the ballot issue that would give the state a chance to take on pressing road and bridge work.

“We have these projects all over Missouri.  We need to address it.  This is a fantastic opportunity to allow the people of Missouri to make a decision on the future of our roads and bridges,” said Razer.

Kansas City Republican Kevin Corlew chaired the 21st Century Missouri Transportation System Task Force.  It recommended a gas tax increase to help support transportation funding.  He said whether such an increase will happen should be up to voters.

“Allow our citizens the opportunity on the November ballot to make a choice and to determine whether or not we can go forward with the 21st century Missouri transportation system, or will we be stuck with the transportation system that was built in the 20th century and continues to be funded with 20th century dollars.” said Corlew.

The House vote sent HB 1460 to the Secretary of State, who’s office is preparing it for the November ballot.  Many of the 60 “no” votes were cast by Republicans.

Representative Phil Christofanelli (photo; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

St. Peters representative Phil Christofanelli (R) called the proposal a “massive” and “deceptive” tax increase.

“The voters already had an opportunity to vote on raising taxes for transportation.  They said, ‘no,’ and here we are, coming back today, poll testing different ideas, how can we sell this idea that the voters have already rejected?”  said Christofanelli.  “We’re all going to go back to our districts – many of us in this [Republican] majority – and tell people how conservative we are, we are conservatives.  The voters believe that conservatives are here to shrink the size of government and not to grow the size of government, and that is exactly what we’re doing today.”

Representative Rocky Miller (R-Lake Ozark) said this measure is flawed and he will oppose it even though his district needs road maintenance and improvements.

“My district will come after me like a crazy person for voting against this, but there’s no way in the world I’m voting for this, and if it passes I’m going to work my guts out to kill it at the poll,” said Miller.

HB 1460 was originally a bill that would waive state tax liability on cash prizes awarded to Olympic medalists.  Another provision in the bill would create an “Emergency State Freight Bottleneck Fund,” that would pay for road projects costing $50-million or more that would relieve bottlenecks or delays of 20 minutes or more on Missouri roads.

The bill would also allow alternative fuels to be taxed at a substantially equivalent rate by 2026.

Because it was changed to include the ballot language for the gas tax, the language voters will see on the ballot will also ask them whether the state should waive tax liability for Olympic medal winners and could include language about the Bottleneck Fund as well.

Transportation Task Force proposes fuel tax increase, readies report to legislature

The 21st Century Missouri Transportation System Task Force is proposing an increase in the state’s fuel tax to support transportation infrastructure.

Representative Kevin Corlew (photo; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

The Task Force met on Tuesday to finalize the recommendations that will go into the report it will release before the legislative session begins January 3.  It says an increase of 10 cents in the tax on gasoline and of 12 cents in the tax on diesel would generate about $430-million annually for roads and bridges.  $43-million of that would go to counties and $64.5-million would go to municipalities.

Such an increase would have to be put before Missouri voters.

“We really do need an immediate impact investment in transportation to move forward, and to really meet a lot of needs that have been arising over many years of neglect in terms of funding,” said the Task Force’s chairman, Kansas City Republican Kevin Corlew.  “The first thing will be let’s make sure we give our transportation system – the people of Missouri – the shot in the arm in terms of transportation infrastructure that we need.”

The Task Force’s draft report said Missouri’s fuel tax burden is low – 46th in the nation – and the proposed increase would amount to an additional $5 per month for the average Missouri driver.

The report also recommends the implementation of a revenue stream dedicated to multimodal transportation (railways, aviation, mass transportation, ports, waterways, and transportation for the elderly and disabled).  The Task Force suggests restructuring Missouri’s Timely Filing Discount on retail sales or withholding tax and/or the discount given to companies that file employee withholding taxes on time.

“Recognizing that all of us benefit from a transportation system and particularly our retail businesses – and they’ve all come around and testified to us, many business groups, on the importance of it – we feel like that’s an area where there’s no additional taxation but we could restructure that … and not suggesting that we do away completely with that,” said Corlew.

He said a restructuring of the Timely Filing Discount could generate $50- to $70-million, which is the range of amounts the Task Force identified as enough to enhance multimodal transportation.

The Task Force also discussed a need to make transportation revenue sustainable long-term.  Recommendations to that end include increases in usage fees for electric and hybrid vehicles; increases in license, registration, and other non-fuel user fees; exploration of additional taxation of internet sales; and tolling on major bridges.

Other recommendations address safety, exploring and supporting innovation, and considering legislative action to remove barriers to various types of projects, including public-private partnerships.

Corlew said, as he has before, that this Task Force was more than, “just another government study … That’s why we worked extraordinarily hard to find a consensus on some of these solutions, that’s why we reached out to Missouri citizens at our meetings and individual members reached out to their communities at home to get the ideas.”

“We are fully committed to making sure that we really do move our transportation system forward and work as hard as we can to make sure that these recommendations are put into place,” said Corlew.

The Task Force includes 23 members from the state House and Senate, the Governor’s office, members of state agencies including the Departments of Transportation and Economic Development and the Highway Patrol, and representatives of business organizations.  It could continue meeting through the end of 2018.

House budget proposal: no state dollars to tolling Missouri roads

The state House’s proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2018 would bar the use of General Revenue dollars for anything associated with collecting tolls on interstates running through Missouri.

Kansas City Republican Kevin Corlew proposed lifting that prohibition.

“We’ve got a funding issue that we need to deal with and I think it’s not wise for us as a body to completely remove one of the options from even consideration and discussion,” said Corlew.

MODOT had asked budget makers for money to conduct a third study of tolling in Missouri.  Republicans including Representative Bart Korman (High Hill) said no more state money should be spent on yet another study.

“That’s a waste of a lot of money that could be used to build a bridge or two,” said Korman, who added, “Tolls are a double tax.”

Some, including Hermann Representative Justin Alferman, said MODOT has only shown interest in tolling I-70 and none of the other interstates in Missouri.

“I don’t want to fund the entire state’s transportation infrastructure on those districts that only hug the I-70 corridor.  I think it is incredibly disingenuous of MODOT to be only pushing forward with I-70,” said Alferman.

Corlew also argued that Congress and the administration of President Donald Trump (R) are preparing an infrastructure package, and Missouri should keep all options open to be able to take advantage of it when it is released.

Korman was also unmoved by that argument.

“[President Trump’s] first deal is going to be repeal and replace Obamacare and we’re waiting for that, yet,” said Korman.  “Congress needs to work through [creating an infrastructure plan.]  By the time Congress gets it all done, our [Fiscal Year ‘18] budget will be expired anyway and we can revisit this next year.”

The transportation budget is laid out in House Bill 4.  The House is expected to vote Thursday on whether to send that and the rest of its proposed state budget to the Senate.