Delaware Governor Jack Markell (D) is asking state legislators and Delawareans to support an increase in the state motor fuels tax as part of a plan to create a reliable revenue stream for the state's Transportation Trust Fund (TTF).
According to Delaware's News Journal, Gov. Jack Markell is seeking a 10-cent increase in the state's gas tax and $50 million in additional debt a year to fund a $500 million, five-year proposal to improve roads and bridges statewide.
“There is no industry that could possibly be successful if you have expenses that grow with inflation and you have revenues that don’t,” said Markell. “But that is the story of our Transportation Trust Fund.”
Delaware motorists now pay 23 cents in state gas tax, which was last increased in 1995. The total DE gas tax is now 41.4 cents per gal.
The estimated additional cost to motorists would be $57 per year or $4.78 per month. The current motor fuel tax rates are 23cts/gal for gasoline and 22cts/gal for special fuels, including diesel.
The motor fuel tax hike would significantly boost spending on transportation projects statewide and put thousands of Delawareans to work over the next five years, he said.
Under Markell's plan, increased motor fuels tax revenues would be coupled with a fiscally responsible borrowing strategy that keeps DelDOT on track to paying down debt.
Fifty million dollars would be borrowed each year for five years by DelDOT to fund already-identified, but delayed construction projects that address safety,congestion and maintenance needs under the State's Capital Transportation Plan, Paving program and State of Good Repair initiative.
Already the funding challenges have caused the postponement or delay of more than 55 road projects in the current fiscal year.
Markell and Shailen Bhatt, the Transportation secretary, warned that voting against new funding would result in delays to critical roadway projects, including improvements on the Christiana River Bridge in south Wilmington, widening of Del. 1 from Tybouts Corner to Del. 273 and safety projects up and down the state. It also would result in reduced Municipal Street Aid and Community Transportation Funding, which lawmakers use to pave roads and fund other minor roadway improvements in their districts.
Of course, you have to wonder, if Delaware can make a case for a 10-cent hike, could that encourage larger states to go after higher stakes? Maybe other states might start at 20 or 25-cents a gallon and work their way up.