Lawmakers Roll Out New Nevada Highway Funding Plan

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) - Nevada lawmakers rolled out a new highway construction funding plan Saturday that would generate about $2 billion by 2015, covering part of a shortfall in revenue for badly needed road projects around the state.

Sen. John Lee, D-North Las Vegas, said he and Senate Transportation Chairman Dennis Nolan, R-Las Vegas, have been discussing the plan with business and casino industry representatives and also are working to get Assembly support.

"We're trying to make it a legislative plan, and not just a Senate plan," said Lee, adding that he also discussed the proposal with Gov. Jim Gibbons and "didn't feel any resistance. But there wasn't a 100 percent commitment either."

The latest transportation funding measure is separate from one that Assemblyman Garn Mabey, R-Las Vegas, the Assembly's Republican leader, has said he will introduce for Gibbons. That proposal would fund road projects by diverting entertainment, room and vehicles sales taxes.

Lee confirmed that the plan that he and Nolan are pushing would include a 4-cent increase in the diesel fuel tax, which is lower than regular gas taxes. While Gibbons has opposed any higher taxes, Lee said there's trucking industry support for the 4-cent boost.

Other elements of the plan include a 1 percent diversion of rental car taxes, and a diversion of 3 cents per $100 of assessed valuation in property taxes collected by local governments – but that wouldn't be diverted until 2008.

Also, the Las Vegas Visitors and Convention Authority would kick in $20 million a year, using funds generated by a bond issue. Bonds would be paid off using room tax revenues. There's also a change to a car depreciation schedule that would generate more revenue.

Both the legislative proposal and Gibbons' plan fall well short of an expected shortfall of at least $5 billion for highway funding by 2015.

The governor's plan would reallocate about $424 million a year from Las Vegas-area room taxes, and $360 million a year from statewide vehicle sales taxes and live entertainment taxes.

Using that revenue, the state Transportation Department could sell $2.5 billion in bonds and begin work on highway construction projects.

The tax reallocation plan would remain in effect at least as long as it takes to pay off the bonds, according to state Budget Director Andrew Clinger.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.


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