The state has to sell more than $100 million in new bonds to pay for highway projects that were supposed to get federal funding.Broadcast Version
The reason is based in Washington, DC: Congress has failed to act on issuing federal highway money because the federal highway trust fund, which gets its revenue from gasoline taxes, is reaching critically low funding levels.
So the state has issued some $130 million in bonds to keep the transportation construction projects on track. According to Governor Nathan Deal, “We don’t need to have a period of three months or two months in which we’re not able to let contracts for highway construction because that’s in the heart of our construction season, and we need to keep it ongoing.”
It appears Congress has given up – at least for now – on legislation that will address the issue in the long term. However, there is still a chance it will pass a short-term bill before recessing in August according to Joshua Waller with the state Department of Transportation. “If they don’t, says Waller, “October is really going to be the really critical month for whether or not we proceed with additional transportation projects or have to put things on indefinite hold.”
The federal gas tax rate, 18.5 cents per gallon, has remained the same for more than 20 years. Declining gasoline use is the reason the fund is now coming up short.