Lawmakers consider creating state Highway Commission

Apr 3, 2013

  The annual ICAT transportation conference included a panel on state funding for  transportation projects. Some state lawmakers say there are better ways to fund infrastructure projects than by passing an occasional massive construction bill. Democratic senator Martin Sandoval chairs the senate transportation committee.  He says he supports forming an independent highway commission to regulate infrastructure funding like other utilities:

 “Because it is a utility.  We need it.  Can’t live without it.  And we should treat it that way.  And we should not have it compete with Medicaid, with medicare, with schools.”

 Sandoval says the body could serve to regulate the motor fuel-tax or expand the toll-system to generate revenue for road projects. Republican Representative Mike Unes says he questions the idea of creating a new body:

 “Are we going to turn over responsibility to others to be able to raise taxes and not elected officials? I don't think that’s what’s supposed to happen in a Democracy.”

 Unes says lawmakers need to help improve the state’s fiscal condition without passing the responsibility onto someone else.  Lawmakers return to Springfield next week.