Gov. Kenny Guinn has again raised the
prospect of higher taxes to help keep up with Nevada's
road-construction needs, but a spokesman said Friday that Guinn
isn't saying that boosting taxes is the only solution.
The Republican governor said at a state Transportation Board
meeting Wednesday that one possibility for helping with
road-project funding would be to tie Nevada's gas tax to the rate
of inflation. The state tax has remained at about 18 cents a gallon
Guinn also said he'd ask a 15-member blue ribbon task force,
charged with bringing recommendations on transportation issues to
the 2007 Legislature, to study the issue.
"The governor merely suggested one area that the committee
ought to explore," press secretary Steve George said. "He's not
championing it or saying it's what we ought to do. He's saying it's
one of many proposals to be looked at - and the committee should
decide for itself what's the best recommendation."
Guinn last week named the members of the new task force that
will study the need for future Nevada highway project and how to
pay for them. The panel will hold its first meeting Oct. 27 in Las
Vegas. Its goal is to have a report completed in time for the 2007
Guinn, who chairs the Transportation BOard, has said the state
is now involved in its largest highway construction program ever -
but starting in 2008 many more projects will be needed to keep pace
with Nevada's rapid growth.
State Transportation Director Jeff Fontaine has said there's
enough money for the current construction projects - but from 2008
until 2014 there's an expected shortfall of $2.4 billion in the
budget for building new roads and maintaining existing ones.
Guinn also has said the new task force will assess
transportation needs and costs and set priorities - and try to
determine whether citizens would support tax increases to generate
money for the road projects.
The governor said that if the public doesn't support a tax
increase, the highway construction and improvement program probably
would have to be scaled back. He also said Fontaine's shortfall
estimate probably is conservative.