U.S. Route 35 in Putnam and Mason counties still lacks 15 miles of widening to be completed.
Kokosing Construction
U.S. Route 35 in Putnam and Mason counties still lacks 15 miles of widening to be completed.

State Senate President Jeff Kessler said West Virginians and state lawmakers need to accept the reality of a tax increase to pay for maintenance and improvements of the state’s roads.

“Quite frankly, unless somebody has a better way, it’s going to have to be a gas tax, a user fee, or an allocation of general revenue money,”  said Kessler. “Wherever it comes from, make no mistake about it, it’s about cold, hard cash.”

A tax increase of any kind is not a subject those at the capitol want to talk about.  Kessler said his colleagues under the dome need to accept the fact a tax increase is the only way to tackle the growing problem of crumbling bridges and roads and the beleaguered state road fund.

“If it means raising the gas tax a penny or whatever to get it done, I truly believe most people won’t mind payting it,”  Kessler said. “They’d much rather pay it than pay $150 for a new alignment every six months.”

Road construction is at a near standstill in the state and in the past couple of years the Department of Transportation has been tight for funds to even complete the most basic highway repairs.   Kessler supports a tax increase to replenish the road money and is encouraging support among colleagues.

“Let’s not be afraid of the ‘T-word’,” said Kessler. “It’s money and we need to have an adequate source of revenue to get the job done.”

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  • Rayna Gay

    I support this 110%

  • Stephenwv

    Where is all the money going??? In 2005 the state variable tax was $.065 per gallon. Roads were maintained pretty well then. Now it is $.145 per gallon. 123% increase and our roads are in poor shape. Don't even try to suggest that less gas consumption and inflation is anywhere near 123%. Someone is benefitting from more than doubling money available for the roads and it is not the roads.

    • C.Hoffman

      Unions, pols pockets and special interests. Not necessarily in that order.

  • Eddie

    Great lets just hike up the gas tax even more! WTH! I have an idea. How about you guys take a salary cut? As far a highway repair I79 is always getting work done. What about RT 50 and other roads that never even get looked at because the blind people in the capital can't see outside of Charleston! We do not need another gas tax. People can not afford to buy gas now to get to their jobs in "another state" because we have no jobs here in WV!

  • Jim

    I raised this question several years ago, even with DOH decision makers and continue to wait on an answer. Although it does not "solve" the present problem, I believe it is a legitimate question that needs raised. Why not a moratorium on new road and bridge building until the DOH prepares a long-term budget that clearly earmarks the funds necessary to maintain the new road or bridge or expressway throughout the useful life of the structure? If the DOH would follow this method, we would not be repeatedly dealing with this same problem every 5-10 years. However I'm not naive enough to believe that a state agency that is rapant with political favoritism and a punishment/reward system would even subscribe to a plan that takes away its ability to reward politicians that curry favor with the governor, legislature and DOH management. When one buys a home and develops their respective family budget, capitol costs, such as roof replacement, sidewalk repair, siding replacement, etc. Maintenance money is the foundation of a family budget. Why not the DOH? And how can the DOH, governor or legislators dismiss the idea when they are unwilling to even give it serious consideration? Finally, because previous administrations, legislators and DOH management went willy nilly grabbing federal road & bridge funding without a second thought as to how they would maintain these new structures, now the chickens have come home to roost and taxpayers are going to be left with the bill. Ineptitude carrys no consequence in government!

  • Doug

    We already have one of the highest if not the highest gas tax in the country. Other states around us don't have the horrible road conditions we have. And we have fewer roads. How are they maintaining there roads without raising their gas tax? Maybe we should elect politicians from another state that knows how to use the money we do have. This is same crap every year. They don't want to take money from programs that aren't working to fund what is needed. They just want to raise taxes. Someone needs to go through the state spending and see where all the money is going and direct it to where it's needed. What are they going to do if electric cars get more popular and people don't use as much gas? They will lose money then. Will they start taxing Kilowatt hours?

  • John

    Ok no new tax increases, lets listen to all you whiny Libnecks continue bitching about poor road conditions,then when they start a plan to fix the problems its " but no we dont want have to pay for it". Great socialist logic, get something for nothing. Its no wonder WV is such a poor state, because of bunch of moochers and leaches live in it that dont want to pay for anything but cigarettes and beer.

    • derek

      John first of all I'm not a Libneck I am one the most conservative people you will ever meet!
      But the cost of living keeps going up and up and wages keep going down so therefore I for one cannot stand for anymore tax increases of any kind! We are barely getting by now and I work sixty plus hours a week! Our elected officials have mismanaged the money they been intrusted with to keep our roads and bridges repaired! Enough is Enough!!!!

  • Michael

    If construction is at a standstill and only the most basic repairs are being made, is their entire budget being spent on salaries for people who don't get anything accomplished?

  • Jeff

    Mr. Kessler if you want to save millions of dollars in state road funds then stop the wastefulness of the people who work for the state. Just the other day (Sunday) I saw a stateroad truck hauling someones firewood, who pays for that? How many times has anybody ever gone in a Go-mart or Wal-mart and see a stateroad truck running in the parking lot and see the driver shopping for their own needs. Stop the waste and save $$$

  • Charlie

    The only to get money is to tax the working people thats left in wv thanks dem

  • derek

    I urge everyone to contact your Senator in there respective districts and demand no more tax increases!

    • John

      Yeah, because you have to have money for tobacco and alcohol , it is racing season.

  • zerotolerance

    Don't forget the 13 MILLION dollar Rest Stop just above Clarksburg on I-79. The old one sure were decrepit and of little use. SIX AND ONE HALF MILLION DOLLARS PER SIDE!

    Shouldn't it have a pool, roller coaster, a Starbucks and oh yes toilets.........


    • Robert

      If it did indeed cost $6.5 million per rest area then I have a problem as well. Nothing against improving the facilities but that number seems excessive.

  • Celeg

    So why the push to build yet another underutilized superhighway in the form of Corridor H when we can't maintain the roads we have now?

  • Robert

    How many highways have we broken ground for, paved a few miles of then the remaining work is simply on paper waiting for funding while at the same time existing nearby roads and bridges are crumbling? Too many.

    How much highway funding is wasted or spent for favor? The Fairmont Gateway Connector wouldn't have been built had it not for the political connections that county and city have.
    Sure it's a nice road but to downtown Fairmont? All those existing homes and businesses were destroyed so that a small city could have uber access and a do-over for development along the road's path?

    Road building and maintenance in this state has become nothing more than a political slush fund, I have trouble with the idea of finding ways to increasingly fill the pot.

  • derek

    I say no to any tax increase what have they done with all the money they have collected over the years from the tax on gasoline already? Everywhere I have traveled in our great state I see roads that are crumbling! There hasn't been any significant paving on most of our roads in the past eight years, so where has the money gone?

    • John

      Pay for teacher raises so we can sit 48th in the country in education for the 10th year running.

    • Robert

      It's gone to start new road projects so that politicians can have ribbon cutting ceremonies.

  • MyView

    Kessler from the northern part of the state, so it will be the same ol WV policy all pay the taxes and the north gets the better roads, schools more delegates, senators, and what does the south higher taxes