Here’s Gov. Butch Otter’s reaction to state Controller Donna Jones’ press release today urging against a tax increase for roads, and instead calling for spending the state’s surplus on road needs: “We appreciate the state controller’s suggestion, because we know she recognizes, as we do, the serious condition many of our roads and highways and bridges are in,” said Jon Hanian, Otter’s press secretary. “However, when it comes to one-time surpluses, there always seems to be many more ideas as to what to do with it than there are matching dollars to go around.”
Hanian noted that Otter is dealing with many competing needs, including a burgeoning prison population, issues with state mental health services, and an array of education needs from pre-K to K-12 to higher education. “So you factor all of those things in there, we know all of those folks are going to be making their own case for how best to spend this one-time money,” he said of the state’s budget surplus, which totaled $247 million at the close of the fiscal year.
Hanian said Otter’s commitment to funding a $200 million a year funding gap for road maintenance and repairs hasn’t changed. “Fiddling while our roads are falling apart is not one of the options – that hasn’t changed,” Hanian said. “We don’t have the specifics yet. … He’s going to do this in collaboration in terms of how we end up generating that revenue stream, and I think it’s fair to say that he is looking at a revenue stream and not a pond.”