State official warns of problems if Congress fails to extend gas tax

Kansas Secretary of Transportation Deb Miller said Wednesday that if Congress fails to extend the federal motor fuels tax by Sept. 30, the state may have to shut down some highway construction projects.

"The disruption of funding would be absolutely immediate and of a concern," Miller told state legislators during a meeting of the Legislative Budget Committee.

The federal tax, which is 18.4 cents per gallon of gasoline and 24.4 cents per gallon of diesel, is set to expire Sept. 30 unless reauthorized by Congress.

Approximately 30 percent of the $1.5 billion the Kansas Department of Transportation expects to receive this fiscal year comes from the federal highway program. All of the federal monies go directly toward construction.

Miller did not say which projects would be affected if the tax wasn't extended, but she provided legislators with a map of Kansas showing numerous federally funded road projects under construction.

Miller said it appears most members of Congress want to keep construction projects going in their districts, but she said some have voiced opposition to extending the tax.

Miller also noted that under President Barack Obama's jobs plan, which includes funds for infrastructure improvements, Kansas could receive an additional $263 million in transportation funding.

By Scott Rothschild

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