Delaware Lawmaker Suggests Alternative to Gas Tax - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Delaware Lawmaker Suggests Alternative to Gas Tax

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SEAFORD, Del.- For more than a month, Gov. Jack Markell has been calling for a gas tax increase of 10 cents per gallon, in order to improve Delaware's roadways. Now a state lawmaker from Seaford has suggested an alternative, which he said will eliminate the gas tax increase, and still generate more than $1 billion over seven years. 

Rep. Dan Short said this plan focuses on the trust fund, which was set up within the Delaware Department of Transportation. This fund of about $360 Million is supposed to be used solely for building and maintaining roadways. However, Short said $230 Million of this money is being used for other purposes.

His plan is to move $38 million from this trust fund to the general fund each year for seven years, in order to free up revenue for the roads. He then said they should cut this amount of money from the general fund each year. In doing so he said the state will not only open up more than $1 billion by the end of the time period for roadwork, but also that it will once again make the roadway trust fund sustainable. 

"Our idea is to say, 'Let's not take $50 million out of the hands of the citizens of the state of Delaware to pay for the capital projects," he said. "Let's leave it in their hands to spend it as they would." 

The governor had his doubts about this plan. He told WBOC that he wasn't sure where these cuts would be made from the general fund. He said this $230 million which would eventually be cut represents a large amount of revenue that would be lost, without any indication about what exactly Short wanted to cut. 

"It would be a great thing to move those expenses out," he said. "But people have the responsibility to say what they would cut from the general fund as a result." 

Short did not give specifics about which programs would be cut, saying this would obviously be a decision made by more than just him. However, he said doing so would be possible because there's a lot of over-spending that can be cut in Delaware. 

Luther Leighton, of Harbeson, said he had high hopes for this plan. He said any action that would stop the gas price from rising was a good policy. 
  
"We have to trim the fat," he said. "We have to find out where the waste is. And where they can be more streamlined with their responsibilities." 

The governor has stated various times that many roadway projects will be delayed or stopped all together if this gas tax does not get passed. 

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