Jim Tracy, a Republican state senator from Shelbyville, has been traveling the state seeking input from Tennesseans about whether they’re OK with paying more at the pump to finance future road projects.
Short answer is, not yet, Tracy told reporters at a Tennessee Transportation Coalition event in Murfreesboro on Oct. 6.
As chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, Tracy is in a key position to either thwart or advance any proposal by Gov. Bill Haslam to hoist Tennessee state government’s 21.4-cent-a-gallon tax on gasoline.
Tracy says the conversation about road funding needs to be approached as a long-range plan.
“One-time money won’t fix the problem,” he said. “We are $6 billion dollars in backlog with projects. We are going to have to look at long-term funding to fix it.”
In Tracy’s view, “We’ve got a couple three years to work on this problem.” So he doesn’t feel pressure to ram a tax-hike through in the coming session, which begins in January 2016.
“I just don’t think we are ready to do it yet,” he said.
“This will be a process that I will be doing over the next year,” Tracy added.
According to the Tennessee Department of Transpiration, the state’s current-level gas tax yields about $658 million per year.