Three Questions: Fuel-Tax Indexing

quigley.jpgLet’s say Assembly Bill 413—a.k.a. the motor-vehicle fuel-tax-indexing bill—comes up in cocktail conversation. Here’s the one thing you would remember to say if Tina Quigley, the general manager of the Regional Transportation Commission, had her way: It’s not a tax increase. Rather, it’s a proposed change in state law that would allow Clark County to peg gas-tax increases to inflation rates. Why does Quigley care? Because the revenue generated by gas taxes is used to improve roads.

How does this bill apply to Southern Nevada?

The [fuel-tax] rate has been 9 cents per gallon since 1995. Of the 17 counties in Nevada, all except Clark County have been granted permission from the Legislature to tie their local fuel taxes to an inflation index. We’re singled out by language that limits indexing to counties with populations of less than 700,000. This bill would change that language to include counties of 700,000 or more.

Why do we need this?

The RTC only has $22.4 million a year available for the next 10 years for streets and highway projects. In previous years, we had $136 million per year. This is an 83 percent decline. Much of that’s due to the economic downturn, the development of more fuel-efficient vehicles and the commitment of funds to bonded projects. [But] to remain competitive globally and diversify our economy, we need to be able to build, enhance and maintain our transportation infrastructure.

What’s your response to those who oppose the bill?

We need to start having discussions about how to generate additional funding that will create the needed transportation infrastructure and vision for our community and visitors. Assembly Bill 413 will allow us to have those conversations in Southern Nevada.

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