Kentucky gas tax will not increase

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 31, 2014 at 6:35 pm •  Published: March 31, 2014
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FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky drivers will not pay more at the pump this summer as House Democrats dropped their support for an increase in the state gas tax.

Democratic House Speaker Greg Stumbo said he has told legislative leaders to prepare the state's two-year road spending plan without the extra $107 million that would have come from a 1.5 cents-per-gallon increase in the state gas tax. And state lawmakers approved a two-year revenue bill Monday without the gas tax increase.

House Democrats narrowly approved the gas tax increase earlier this month, saying it was needed for road projects throughout the state. But the Republican-controlled Senate rejected the increase. That set up four days of contentious debate between House and Senate leaders, culminating with a marathon closed-door meeting that ended at 5:30 Sunday morning.

"There will be less money going back to counties and cities to repair the roads, that's just the fact of life," Stumbo said.

One casualty could be $37 million for the Brent Spence bridge in northern Kentucky. The double-decker bridge, which connects Covington with Cincinnati, opened in the 1960s. It carries more traffic than it was designed for, causing frequent traffic jams and safety concerns and has become a symbol of the nation's aging infrastructure.

Kentucky owns the bridge and is responsible for its maintenance. It will cost about $2.6 billion to replace the bridge. Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear proposed using tolls to help pay that cost, but state lawmaker rejected that proposal. The Senate added an extra $37 million to the state's two-year road plan to pay for the land acquisition necessary for the project to get started.