CARSON CITY — The Legislature moved another day closer to adjournment Wednesday without taking action on or discussing bills to pay for at least part of the state’s $5 billion transportation funding shortfall.
The Senate Taxation and Transportation committees canceled a scheduled joint hearing on Gov. Jim Gibbons’ bill to grab a minimum of $20 million a year in room taxes from the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority and use it for highway construction.
Senate Transportation Chairman Dennis Nolan, R-Las Vegas, said Gibbons wanted more time to review his Senate Bill 574.
Senate Taxation Chairman Mike McGinness, R-Fallon, admitted a day’s delay reduces the already slim chance that any action will be taken by the Legislature on highway funding this session. The Legislature adjourns Monday.
Assembly Transportation Chairman Kelvin Atkinson, D-North Las Vegas, said: “We are going to have to have multiple floor sessions each day to get something through, and we will.”
Nolan said Gibbons’ bill can be the vehicle in which legislators can insert car registration, taxicab and car rental fees and reallocate the money to the highway construction fund.
The Legislature must before the session ends find $50 million to $60 million a year in revenue to float a $1 billion highway bond, Nolan said. That would give the Nevada Department of Transportation a sufficient amount to work on widening Interstate 15 and U.S. Highway 95 in Southern Nevada.
Atkinson’s committee will meet today and consider putting in Assembly Bill 595 fees for a highway bond.
Like Atkinson, Nolan said he favors letting voters decide on the 2008 ballot whether they want to approve tax increases to cover the remaining highway funding shortfall.
A task force decided in December that the state needs to find $3.8 billion to construct 10 super-highway projects between 2008-15. Because of higher material costs, the price tag for the projects has risen to $5 billion.
“The governor will not allow us to raise the amount of money we need to build these roads, so we may have to ask voters how they want to pay for them,” Atkinson said.2007 Nevada Legislature