Call to Order and Roll Call
Thefourth meeting of the Budget Review Subcommittee on Transportation of the Interim Joint Committee on Appropriations and Revenue was held on Thursday, October 24, 2013, at 10:00 AM, in Room 131 of the Capitol Annex. Representative Leslie Combs, Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.
Guests: Greg Pritchett, Chairman, Kentucky Water Transportation Advisory Board (KWTAB); Greg Curlin, Chairman, Kentucky Association of Riverports, and Director, Hickman-Fulman County Riverport Authority; Representatives Jim Wayne and Joni Jenkins; Louisville City Councilman David James; and, Secretary Mike Hancock, Transportation Cabinet.
Representative Collins congratulated Transportation Cabinet Secretary Mike Hancock for recently being elected as president of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO).
Kentucky Water Transportation Advisory Board (KWTAB)
Mr. Pritchett and Mr. Curlin provided an update on progress and activities of the KWTAB and public riverport investments.
In response to questions from Representative Collins, Mr. Pritchett said some projects had been completed, and others are currently under construction. He said there is approximately $12 million annually coming into Kentucky from foreign watercraft, with $2 million going to the state and $10 million going back to the counties that are adjoining Kentucky waters.
Louisville-Southern Indiana Ohio River Bridges (LSIORB)
Representative Jim Wayne provided a brief overview of pre-filed legislation relating to tolls on the bridges. Representative Jenkins stressed the importance of considering low-income citizens and the additional money that would be required for them to cross the bridges to get to work each day. The estimation of $500 per year would be a hardship for many.
In response to questions from Representative Collins, Representative Wayne said the low-income citizens that qualify for the federal Earned Income Tax Credit would be affected by the proposed legislation. He said the $1.9 million comes from the Transportation Cabinet budget, and only includes the LSIORB. The proposed legislation would address the needs of all Kentuckians along the Ohio River and include other bridges that may be tolled in the future.
In response to a question from Chair Combs, Representative Wayne said the $1.9 million was calculated based on 3,800 full-time workers that qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit, and estimating only about one-third would apply for the credit.
In response to questions from Representative Collins, Representative Wayne said that based on proposed toll rates of $1.00 each way, calculated at 50 weeks per year for $10 per week in toll charges, the estimate was $500 per year. The rate would increase with inflation. It would be a credit, so if the individual does not owe any taxes, he or she would get credit for that amount, or if they only worked six months of the year, he or she would get half the amount credited.
In response to a question from Senator Hornback regarding independent contractors using their own vehicles, Representative Wayne said the credit would only apply to employees who work for a company in Indiana, but the idea should be considered if the contractors are of applicable income level.
In response to comments from Senator Harris regarding local trucking businesses in other states getting a 25 percent break on all tolls, Representative Wayne said that needs to be considered.
In response to a question from Representative Collins, Representative Wayne said the proposed legislation relates only to the Louisville-Southern Ohio River Bridges. Representative Collins said if the Mountain Parkway could be finished, people would be willing to pay tolls. Chair Combs agreed. Representative Gooch commented that the Owensboro area had the last two toll roads in Kentucky, and the tolls were removed during the Fletcher Administration.
Secretary Hancock said that the amount provided to the Transit Authority of River City (TARC) was $20 million, with $10 million being provided by Kentucky and $10 million provided by Indiana.
Senator Harris said that, on the way to Frankfort, he sat in bumper-to-bumper traffic for five miles. There was a lighted sign one mile before the road repair stating the left lane was closed one mile ahead. He suggested that a similar sign be placed about a half-mile before the previous exit, so that locals could exit off the interstate at that point. Secretary Hancock said that was a good suggestion and would be implemented.
In response to a question from Senator Hornback regarding commercial trucks getting a frequent use pass, Secretary Hancock said the tolling policy has not yet been established, but the cabinet is working with Indiana on those issues.
There being no further business before the subcommittee, the meeting was adjourned at 10:53 AM.