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Local Official: Gas Tax Helps Safety

November 19, 2009

CHARLESTON, W.V. - A special session of the West Virginia legislature is looking at funding a shortfall in the state's transportation budget. To do so, lawmakers may be ready to pass Gov. Joe Manchin's proposal to stop an automatic cut in part of West Virginia's gas tax. Manchin wants lawmakers to add a minimum to the portion of the complex formula that fluctuates with gas prices, a move that could add $70 million to road repair funds.

Gary Tillis, president of the Putnam County Commission, says a lot of bridge projects need the money.

"The Winfield Bridge is in bad need of maintenance and repairs and a paint job. That $70 million very well could be used on those projects."

Last year an increase in gas taxes was frozen when prices spiked. Tillis says that was needed when people were suffering, but he says he doesn't hear as much about it now.

"If you're at the barbershop or things, people grumble on occasion, but I haven't heard near as much complaint. After the skyrocketing prices at $4 a gallon, kinda relieved that it's at $2-something per gallon."

Republican House of Delegates leader Tim Armstead says members on his side of the aisle oppose the move, because of the cost to consumers filling up.

Dan Heyman, Public News Service - WV