Senate President Mike Miller addressed MACo’s legislative committee on July 23 discussing transportation issues and the State’s fiscal outlook. President Miller stated, “I know you’re hoping to hear from me how many transportation dollars counties will get?” The answer is “I don’t know.”
President Miller commented, “There are so many pent-up demands for infrastructure projects and there are no federal funds to assist and probably won’t be.” To address the project backlog, the State approved a gas tax increase and imposed a sales tax on gasoline two years ago to raise additional revenue, of which all has been allocated to state projects. He said, “The current formula does not provide for additional local funding.”
At the same time, he stated that, “Gubernatorial candidates have expressed support for restoring local highway user revenues along with other big-ticket items such as exempting military retirement from the state’s income tax and increasing funds for school construction.” President Miller alluded that following through on all of these items would be difficult as the State has a deficit and the next budget year will be tough. “We’ll just have to see what we can do,” he said.
When asked by MACo Board and Legislative Committee member William Pickrum “How do we get out of our deficit situation?” President Miller responded, “We need to reclaim jobs and our community colleges need to retool.” He said, “It’s going to get better, it has to.”
Working in partnership was a theme throughout his remarks. He stressed that the State and local governments need to work together to meet all the needs.