Gas tax may be best way to raise funds

Published 11:45 am Wednesday, December 28, 2016

The roads in Lincoln County, like everywhere in the state, could use some work. But the funding required to bring all roads and bridges up to par is beyond the county’s means.

The Board of Supervisors, like boards in all 82 counties, would like more state funding for infrastructure improvements. But the state doesn’t appear to be in a financial position to do much about funding those improvements.

One of the best solutions to the infrastructure funding problem is increasing the state’s gas tax. Unfortunately, local legislators have signaled that the idea of raising the state’s tax is dead in the water.

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That’s a shame since that’s a tax that makes the most sense. The people who drive the roads and bridges are the folks who should help fund their upkeep.

Short of raising taxes, it’s unclear how the state will find more money for infrastructure. There’s the $700 million from BP, but lawmakers on the Coast will fight hard to keep it there. Other lawmakers will argue that it should go to the state’s general fund.

There’s also some hope that a federal infrastructure bill will gain some traction in the new year. President-elect Donald Trump made promises to push for infrastructure improvements, but it’s unclear how those will be funded. If there was federal money for larger projects in the state, more state funding might be free for county-level projects. But it’s only wishful thinking at this point.

If the Legislature hadn’t been so quick to pass tax breaks while revenues were dragging, maybe there would be enough funds for road improvements. But as it stands, Lincoln County will likely be on its own when it comes to infrastructure improvements. That’s unless legislators decide to get serious about funding the work and consider an increase in the gas tax.