Gov. Kay Ivey is pulling out all the stops to see her signature legislation, an increase in the state’s gas tax for the first time since 1992, is passed.
Moments after delivering her State of the State address at the State Capitol on Tuesday night, Ivey called the Alabama Legislature into special session solely to consider her proposal to raise the gas tax 10 cents a gallon over three years, which would generate an estimated $320 million yearly for road and bridge upgrades when it is fully phased in.
The bill will be easier to pass in a special session as it requires only a majority vote. Had the legislature taken it up in the regular session, it would have taken a three-fifths vote to pass since it is connected to the budget.
Ivey, one of the nation’s most popular governors according to polling from Morning Consult’s Governor Approval Rankings, feels so strongly about the gas tax and raising revenue to fix the state’s embarrassingly bad roads and bridges she is willing to spend a lot of political capital in a state full of people who distrust government and abhor taxes. She assertively promised taxpayers the money will be closely scrutinized and well spent.
The governor noted lawmakers seem ripe, even enthusiastic, to make some bold moves for a change. Revenue is up due to improved money management and there are 27 new faces in the legislature this year who may not see fit to cling to the old ways of just getting by with patching roads and propping up bridges.
Ivey summed up the state’s woeful infrastructure with a memorable line from her speech.
Noting Alabama’s county governments are resurfacing their roads on a 56-year cycle and replacing bridges on a 186-year schedule, Ivey deadpanned: “Folks, that’s almost as long as Alabama has been a state.”
It’s time for Alabama’s infrastructure to come into the 21st century. To fail will harm the state’s future economic development.