Call to Order and Roll Call
Thefirst meeting of the Budget Review Subcommittee on Transportation of the Interim Joint Committee on Appropriations and Revenue was held on Thursday, June 27, 2013, at<MeetTime> 10:00 AM, in Room 131 of the Capitol Annex. Senator Jimmy Higdon, Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.
Members:Senator Jimmy Higdon, Co-Chair; Representative Leslie Combs, Co-Chair; Senator R.J. Palmer II; Representatives Hubert Collins, Tim Couch, Jim Gooch Jr., Keith Hall, Sal Santoro, John Short, and Jim Stewart III.
Guests: Mike Hancock, Secretary, Transportation Cabinet; Tammy Branham, Executive Director, Office of Budget and Fiscal Analysis; Russ Romine, Executive Advisor to the Secretary; Steve Waddle, State Highway Engineer, Department of Highways; and Nancy Albright, Division of Maintenance, Department of Highways.
Road Fund Revenue Update
Ms. Branham provided an update of the Road Fund.
In response to a question from Chairman Higdon, Ms. Branham said the increase in motor fuels tax revenue mentioned in the presentation will not be effective until fiscal year 2014, which begins July 1, 2013.
In response to questions from Representative Collins, Ms. Branham replied that hybrid vehicles are not affecting usage tax, but may be affecting the motor fuels tax due to the widening gap between miles traveled versus consumption. She said vehicle miles traveled have increased for most of calendar years 2011 and 2012. Miles traveled in calendar year 2013 have fluctuated. Secretary Hancock said all states are different regarding the discussion of charging fees rather than taxes for hybrid vehicles. He said there are a number of ways to approach the subject, and Kentucky is looking at the spectrum of opportunity.
In response to a question from Representative Collins, Ms. Branham stated that of the 48.2 percent fuels tax, 22.2 percent goes to the Rural Secondary program, 18.3 percent goes to the County Aid program, and 7.7 percent goes to the Municipal Aid program. She said the County Aid dollars are run through a formula and then divided among the counties by formula. Representative Collins requested that more information be provided at a later date.
In response to a question from Representative Hall, Ms. Branham replied that the revenue numbers are provided by the Consensus Forecasting Group.
In response to a question from Representative Hall regarding weight distance tax, Secretary Hancock said the amount spent on coal haul roads is based on need, road conditions, and other factors. Representative Hall asked that more information on the weight distance tax be provided at a later date.
Representative Collins commented that citizens in eastern Kentucky would take the tolls if they could get the roads in order to have the same access as other areas of the state.
In response to a question from Chairman Higdon, Ms. Branham said compressed natural gas is being taxed as a special fuel. Comparatively speaking, non-motor carriers are taxed at 29.3 cents per gallon, motor carriers are taxed at 42.8 cents per gallon, and standard gasoline is taxed at 32.3 cents per gallon.
MAP-21 Update and Federal Sequestration
Russ Romine provided an overview of MAP-21, which became law on July 6, 2012, and replaces the SAFETEA-LU funding program.
In response to a question from Representative Combs, Secretary Hancock said funding codes will be modified for highways, and there is no intention of eliminating bridge replacements because there are still a number of bridges that need replacing.
In response to a question from Chairman Higdon, Secretary Hancock said Kentucky’s highway fatalities are down from last year, with Kentucky in the lower tier of states. More information comparing Kentucky’s performance measures versus the national average will be provided at a later date.
In response to a question from Representative Hall, Secretary Hancock he believes that Congress wants to fund transportation at higher levels. Some of funds will recover despite of fiscal cliff, but he did believe levels would be as high as before.
Representative Collins commended Commissioner Don Pasley for his hard work and thanked him for his efforts.
State and Local Bridges
Steve Waddle, State Highway Engineer testified about state and local bridges.
In response to a question from Representative Combs, Mr. Waddle replied that the Brent Spence Bridge is classified as functionally obsolete.
In response to a question from Representative Collins, Mr. Waddle explained that the term “out of compliance on bridge postings” means the weight limit is not posted on the bridge. Secretary Hancock added that if load restrictions are not posted sufficiently, federal bridge replacement funds cannot be used. He said Kentucky needs more money for preventive maintenance.
In response to a question from Representative Gooch regarding faulty paint on the Twin Bridges on Highway 41 from Henderson to Evansville, Secretary Hancock said he is not familiar with the details but would be concerned about closing bridges to repaint if repainting will cause disruption to the community. Representative Gooch asked about the McClean County Bridge. Mr. Waddle replied that rust forms a patina that protects steel. He said that, while rust is not pretty, it eliminates the need for paint.
In response to a question from Representative Combs regarding the most pressing need for Kentucky’s bridges, Mr. Waddle said more available funds are needed for preventive maintenance. Representative Combs asked about the process to evaluate needs. Secretary Hancock explained that the structurally deficient category is such that only replacement can cure the issues. Estimated remaining life is guides decisions for potential bridge projects. Safety is a primary concern.
In response to a question from Representative Stewart, Secretary Hancock stated that embankment settling, freezing and thawing, and changing dynamics are all reasons for bumps in the road on bridge approaches.
In response to a question from Representative Short regarding the condition of the Route 30 Bridge in Magoffin County, Mr. Waddle replied that he would meet with him and inspect the bridge.
In response to a question from Representative Couch regarding rocks falling off the mountain on US 421 in Harlan County, Secretary Hancock said he did not have information available at this time. Mr. Waddle will provide that information at a later date.
In response to a question from Chairman Higdon regarding design/build updates, Secretary Hancock said up to five per year can be done, and the cabinet is planning at least two or three. He will share more information as soon as possible.
Chairman Higdon thanked everyone for their attendance and participation. There being no further business, Representative Hall moved to adjourn, which was seconded by Representative Combs. The meeting was adjourned at 11:22 AM.