Higher gas tax proposed in Delaware

Governor Jack Markell and Department of Transportation Secretary Shailen Bhatt unveiled plans for increasing funding in order to update infrastructure projects across the state. 

During his State of the State address last week, Markell said he wanted to see a $500 million increase in DelDOT’s budget over the next five years for what he says are much needed road projects including delayed safety projects, improvement projects and bridge projects.

According to a 2011 report, the Transportation Trust Fund has experienced insufficient revenues due to a number of factors.

“Our trust fund has been financially challenged for many years by a combination of stagnant or flat revenue streams, residual debt, rising operating construction costs, increased transit expenses, ongoing maintenance requirements and steadily rising demands for new projects,” said Markell.

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Markell said now is the time to create a reliable revenue source that would increase public safety through road projects and provide an economic boost by putting people back to work.

The increase in funding would come from a ten cent increase in the state’s gas tax and as from borrowing funds.

The increase would cost Delaware motorists about $57 annually, or $4.78 a month, according to state estimates. Under the proposal, DelDOT would see a $50 million annual increase in revenue. They would match those funds by borrowing another $50 million annually.

According to Markell, the mix of new revenue and borrowing funds would help DelDOT continue to pay down debt.

The state has not increased the gas tax since 1995. Bhatt said Delaware’s gas tax would continue to be one of the lowest in the region. 

The proposal will now head to the General Assembly. Gov. Markell will present his FY2015 budget recommendations tomorrow. 

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