A committee called the NC FIRST Commission met once again last Friday to discuss how North Carolina should fund its highways and roads.
A host of different options were discussed, including a vehicle-miles tax, additional fees on electric vehicles, new fees on ride sharing services like Uber and Lyft, higher gas taxes and registration fees, and expanded use of toll roads.
The commission was formed last year over concerns that the current revenue structure was not sufficient to fund the state’s highway system.
Under the current funding model, the state gas tax of 36.2 cents per gallon provides roughly 40% of transportation funding, the federal allotment of the federal gas tax provides about 25%, with a vehicle sales tax and DMV fees largely making up the balance.
A rise in electric and hybrid vehicles is in part raising revenue concerns, as those vehicles require little to no gas. More recently, gas tax revenues have taken a further hit due to the decrease in driving because of the economic shutdown.
There are two more meetings of the committee scheduled for 2020, one each in September and November.
In 2013, the North Carolina General Assembly established the Strategic Mobility Formula, which allocates available revenues based on data-driven scoring and local input, as opposed to the “good old boy” method of allocating funds to political cronies that was so prominent in decades past.
Of course, the Department of Transportation has come under fire recently with reports of nearly $40 million in improper pay raises and exceeding its planned budget by $740 million last year, which led to legislation passed in July to provide more oversight of the agency.
With the recent revelations, one wonders whether DOT is facing a revenue problem or a spending problem.