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Constitutional amendment to protect Transportation Trust Fund heads to state Senate

Delaware Public Media

A constitutional amendment to protect Delaware’s Transportation Trust Fund is on the road to the state Senate this week.


The fund was created in the 1980's as a way to make sure the state used money collected from gas taxes, DMV fees and tolls for transportation-related issues. 


But lawmakers regularly dip into this $850 million pot of money for non-transportation expenses, like state worker salaries.


This constitutional amendment would essentially put the cookie jar on top of the fridge, making it harder for lawmakers to reach during the budget process.


“What it would require is that an issue be voted on as a separate bill and be voted on by three quarters of the General Assembly,” said Ken Grant of AAA Mid-Atlatnic, which supports the amendment.


He said that would make the money accessible in a financial crisis, but protect it from regularly being used to backfill the General Fund.


New Jersey passed a similar protection last October after it depleted its trust fund on non-transportation expenses. That state also raised its gas tax by 23 cents a gallon to help restore the fund.


Grant said this constitutional amendment will help Delaware avoid a similar fate.


So far, the bipartisan amendment has been on a smooth ride.


It passed the General Assembly last year with no opposition in the House and only one “no” vote in the Senate. If it passes again this year it will become law with no need for the governor's signature.


Delaware drivers are mostly in favor of the amendment as well, according to a new AAA poll. It found that 70 percent of drivers support it.


It heads to a Senate transportation committee Wednesday. 

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