More money for roads, less for schools?
January 10th, 2011
Lincoln, NE – At a time when many lawmakers say the state needs to tighten its belt, at least one senatorâ€™s talking about spending more money, for roads.
Valentine Senator Deb Fischer wants to dedicate an additional $125 million a year for the next 20 years to road construction. The money would come from sales taxes, which sheâ€™s not proposing to increase. That could mean, if her bill passes, there would be $125 million less for everything else state government spends money on, from schools to health care.
Fischer said she cares about those things, too. So sheâ€™s proposing roads wouldnâ€™t start getting the additional money until two years from now, when she hopes the economy, and state tax revenues, will have improved. But she said roads should definitely be a priority.
â€œIâ€™m conservative, Iâ€™m real conservative,â€ she said. â€œI believe in limited government, and roads are a responsibility of government.â€
Fisherâ€™s plan would allow up to $25 million a year for the first five years to be used to back up to $500 million in new highway bonds. The rest of the money would be divided between counties, cities and the state, for work including the expressway system thatâ€™s years behind schedule. Fischer said even $125 million a year isnâ€™t enough to meet an estimated $13 billion in road construction needs over the next twenty years. But she said people need to choose.
â€œAnd say either, okay, weâ€™re willing to step up. Weâ€™re willing to identify a source of revenue and dedicate it for roads so we can get it done,â€ she said, â€œOr we need to be honest and say no, weâ€™re not going to do it. Weâ€™re going to keep patching along, because right now we only have enough revenue to patch, to do maintenance. So letâ€™s make the choice and letâ€™s be honest to the people.â€
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