Plan to Move Money From Roads to Education Dies

Plan to Move Money From Roads to Education Dies

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Gov. Olene Walker's plan to divert money from a roads fund to help education has died in committee.

The Transportation and Environmental Quality appropriation subcommittee agreed unanimously on Wednesday to accept the legislative analyst recommendation to keep the $17.6 million proceeds from a 1/16 sales tax dedicated to maintain state roads that pass through cities and counties.

Sen. Dave Thomas, R-South Weber, said local entities often bond for road improvements, depending on the sales tax to pay for the bonds, and, "I don't know about taking it away after taking them down the primrose path."

Legislative fiscal analyst Mark Bleazard said it would take a statute change to redirect the money, a move he didn't see happening.

"It's been a sacred cow for a number of years," he said.

Under the legislative budget, local entities would receive $114.9 million from the state to maintain class B and C roads.

Since 1992, the class B and C funds have increased more than 100 percent from $49 million to $114.3 million. That increase is due to a 1998 5 cent per gallon gas tax increase as well as the 1/16 cent sales tax.

Rep. Joe Murray, R-Ogden, said cities and counties like the tax because the state, not them, gets the heat for the tax.

If the money were shifted, many local entities would be forced to raise taxes to pay for their bonds, legislators said.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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