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GOP criticizes transportation funding bill in weekly message

Delaware Public Media

After House Democrats pushed through a bill Thursday hiking more than a dozen DMV fees to raise about $24 million, Republicans are firing back in their weekly message.

Republicans in both the House and Senate walked away from negotiations two weeks ago, as Democrats pushed for transportation funding reform to be introduced before June.

In delivering the weekly message, House Minority Leader Danny Short says more concessions need to be made on spending cuts to earn backing from the GOP.

“Lawmakers who choose to enact higher taxes and fees, without making the tough choices to reduce costs, are shirking their duty to the people they serve,” said Short.

Legislators will reconvene next month after they begin to finalize the state budget. Democrats will need one Republican vote to pass the bill in the state Senate.

Full text of weekly GOP message:

I’m State House Minority Leader Danny Short, speaking to you from Georgetown.

The state’s Transportation Trust Fund is financed by vehicle-related taxes, fees, and tolls and pays for road and bridge construction. However, the Fund has failed to grow as fast as needed, creating a backlog of delayed and threatened projects.

General Assembly Republicans continue to support a bipartisan, holistic approach to solving this funding challenge.

Despite negotiations between Republicans and Democrats to find a mutually acceptable long-term answer, House Democrats on Thursday unilaterally passed a bill hiking 14 vehicle-related fees. The measure would impose 24-million-dollars in additional annual costs on Delaware residents and businesses.

We have repeatedly maintained that if you want to increase taxes and fees, it is irresponsible not to also look at expenses.

We have proposed reforming the system that sets wages for workers employed on state projects. The system is badly flawed, needlessly wasting tens-of-millions of dollars annually on artificially high wages.

We also advocate moving the Department of Transportation’s operating budget out of the Transportation Trust Fund and back to the General Fund, where it was 25 years ago. Making the transition over seven years, in equal installments, would collectively free-up more than $1 billion for road construction.

While challenging, this move would solve the long-term structural funding problem, without the need for higher vehicle fees, a gas tax hike, or additional borrowing.

We recently proposed the formation of a cost-containment committee to trim state government expenses. This committee holds the promise of finding the cost-savings needed to help transition DelDOT’s budget.

Lawmakers who choose to enact higher taxes and fees, without making the tough choices to reduce costs, are shirking their duty to the people they serve.