Call to Order and Roll Call
Thethird meeting of the Budget Review Subcommittee on Transportation of the Interim Joint Committee on Appropriations and Revenue was held on Thursday, October 23, 2014, at 10:30 AM, in Room 131 of the Capitol Annex. Representative Leslie Combs, Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.
Members:Senator Jimmy Higdon, Co-Chair; Representative Leslie Combs, Co-Chair; Senators Ernie Harris and R.J. Palmer II; Representatives Hubert Collins, Tim Couch, Jim Gooch Jr., Dennis Keene, Tanya Pullin, Sal Santoro, John Short, and Jim Stewart III.
Guests: Mike Hancock, Secretary, Transportation Cabinet; David Talley, Innovative Finance Manager, Department of Highways, Transportation Cabinet; and, Mary Elizabeth Bailey, Commissioner, Department of Human Resources Administration, Personnel Cabinet.
Road Fund Update
Secretary Hancock and David Talley provided an update of the Road Fund.
In response to a question from Representative Collins, Secretary Hancock said it is difficult to speculate about the future of the gas tax.
In response to questions from Co-Chair Higdon, Mr. Talley said the motor vehicle usage number includes the six percent collections on new car and used car purchases. He said over the past five years, motor vehicle usage collections have increased from about $333 million to approximately $443 million. The increase is due to a variety of factors, such as the vehicle values and the pace in which people are purchasing vehicles, as well as the change in vehicle usage tax.
Federal Highway Trust Fund Update
Secretary Hancock provided an update of the Federal Highway Trust Fund.
In response to a question from Representative Collins, Secretary Hancock said the federal gas tax is a per gallon rate at 18.4 cents.
Representative Pullin complimented the Transportation Cabinet for its efforts in finding many ways to economize in these tough times. She said the use of a micro thin overlay to extend the life of pavement and asphalt is one excellent example.
Chair Combs said there was language in the Transportation Cabinet Operating Budget to address engineering salaries, and the report is not yet complete; however, representatives of the Personnel Cabinet will provide an update.
Status of Transportation Engineering Series Salary Plan
Commissioner Bailey provided an update on the status of the Transportation Engineering Series Salary Plan, which is currently in process and should be ready by October 31, 2014.
Co-Chair Higdon commented that he looks forward to receiving the report and hopes the cabinet finds efficiencies and funds to cover those much-needed salary revisions. Secretary Hancock said the cabinet will work diligently to implement the plan in order to retain and attract engineers. He said there is an engineering scholarship program in place dating back to 1953 that is the envy of virtually every other state and has produced many engineers the cabinet has relied on over the years. Chair Combs said that, after the report is received, legislators will be charged with addressing that issue for the next budget.
Representative Stewart inquired about a decrease in mining inspectors and some of those jobs being absorbed by the Transportation Cabinet. Commissioner Bailey said that information will be provided to the subcommittee at a later date.
Chair Combs requested a motion to approve the minutes of the July 24, 2014 meeting. A motion was made by Representative Couch and seconded by Representative Stewart, and the minutes were approved without objection.
There being no further business before the subcommittee, the meeting was adjourned at 11:00 AM.