Transportation is a broad-based issue. It affects every sector of the economy and every Utahn. Lack of action has and will increasingly have a negative impact on the safety and efficiency of our infrastructure, and therefore our economy and quality of life will suffer. We need to restructure the motor-fuel tax and we need to do it now.
There is little doubt that a deliberative discussion and pragmatic solutions to address our long-term funding challenges are needed. This discussion has already begun and will continue the upcoming interim session, an effort we applaud. However, the Legislature must do more than deliberate this general session. It must act.
Utah's Unified Transportation Plan – a national best practice – has identified that as a growing state, Utah needs approximately $11 billion in additional revenue for transportation infrastructure and maintenance by 2040. This shortfall affects every community in our state. Without prudent action now to close this gap, our economy and quality of life will suffer.
A proposal on Capitol Hill Senate Bill 60 is being considered and has our full support. This proposal provides the right approach, fixing the structural imbalance of the motor fuel-tax, preserving purchasing power without a tax increase and continuing to have users pay the majority of costs.
This proposal will not address all of our transportation challenges. Local and county governments still need support and our air quality could benefit from more frequent and convenient transit. Nevertheless, it provides a stable and adequate source of funding for long-term transportation funding and planning. Our state has long been regarded for our fiscal management – this is an opportunity to prove it.
H. David Burton is co-chair of the Salt Lake Chamber's Utah Transportation Coalition with David R. Golden, a former chair of the Salt Lake Chamber's Executive Board.