CHARLESTON, W.Va. – After months of work, members of Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Highways are expected to finalize their recommendations for ways to pay for West Virginia’s future road needs coming up next week.

The commission will meet on September 4 to sign off on the report that will then be submitted to the governor.

The commission recently wrapped up a series of public hearings.

Commission Chairman Jason Pizatella said the Blue Ribbon panel noticed most residents accepted the commission’s three-pronged approach for the future of highway funding. 

Not only finding revenue, which is one, but also trying to find ways for DOH to be more efficient and also trying to find ways to think outside the box and do road construction and maintenance a little more innovatively than we’ve done in the past,” Pizatella said.

The most unpopular idea discussed at the public hearings was simply raising the gasoline tax to pay for new highways.

“That probably should not come as a surprise,” Pizatella said. “We’re trying to think outside the box and we’re trying to be active listeners to try and find ways that we have not thought of before.”

West Virginia and other states are in trouble with highway construction money because federal funds have dried up and traditional funding methods, like gasoline taxes, have decreased or been stagnant at best for a number of reasons.

Gov. Tomblin recently told MetroNews he foresees a proposal that would have all state residents sharing the load.

“We don’t want to put a burden on one segment or the other but at the same time we all depend on them (highways) whether we drive or not,” Tomblin said. “We go to the grocery stores, groceries are hauled in and out, they are on the highways. It’s the responsibility of every person to pay their fair share of it.”

He said there is a price to pay for roads.  “Nobody likes to pay taxes but we all like to drive on good roads. The harsh reality is we have to pay for it,” Tomblin said.

Pizatella anticipates the Blue Ribbon panel’s final report will make varied funding proposals.  “We are looking very actively for ways to find revenue without having to raise taxes, without having to raise fees,” he said. “I think it’s clear to everyone this is a 50-year-old problem and it’s not something we can tax or fee our way out of.”

There was initially discussion about the possibility of addressing highway funding needs in a special legislative session later this year but that seems to be growing more unlikely.

“I’ll consider that, but it’s getting close enough now to the regular session that we may have discussions in interims for the next few months and take it into the regular session,” Tomblin said.

The Blue Ribbon Commission held nine public hearings.

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Comments

  • mark nelson

    why not cut all WV politicians pay by 10 percent I am sure this would cover the cost and certainly wouldn't upset any tax payer

  • Quasar

    1/2 cent sales tax which then the tourists/visitors help the fund. It's not just the locals footing the bill.

  • Woodchuck

    Quit sending legislators to North Dakota. They can hunt and fish here at home.

  • me

    Oh, I'm sure the governor will raise the WV gas tax. They are clueless.

    • HP

      I live on the VA border so when possible I buy my gasoline there. They have not increased the gasoline tax recently and that relates to a real savings. Both states pay the same price for their gasoline from the refinery, but if it were not for the WV taxes in WV, both would be priced the same. Drive into a gasoline station near the WV/VA border and cars with WV plates have almost all the pumps occupied. Who is getting hurt by this??? The WV Gas Station owners and also the State of WV that loses that tax.

      • Guardian

        Well, if you want to give VA the tax money to work on their roads, go ahead. You and the others filling up on the VA side of the line are saving yourselves some money - no doubt about that. But in doing so, you are not paying your "fair share" under the current funding set up for the roads in your home state of WV.

        And if you damage your car because you hit a pothole in WV, you have to repair it - the cost of which just depleted all of your savings with VA gas in one fell swoop. Of course, then you'd probably take the state to claims court to get reimbursed for your damage due to the poor road condition - again taking money from the state that you are not supporting because you and those like you are not funding the WV road fund.

        You are being penny wise and pound foolish. You have to have some loyalty and responsibility in your actions. Bite the bullet and buy WV gas - at least then you are part of the solution and not part of the problem.

        For the record, where I live I could either buy PA gas or MD gas easily, but I don't for the above stated reasons.

        • Jephre

          When the difference between WV and VA gas is 10 cents a gallon or so you're right, but when it gets to 40-50 cents a gallon like it is now you're foolish not to take advantage. I'm as loyal as the next guy, but not to the point where I can have 5 or 6 bucks left in my pocket every time I fill up.

  • HMAALLTHEWAY

    I don't think you will see the prevailing wage go away. WV is for the most part a "Union" state.

    Also, the distinguished gentlman from Mercer Co. went as far as holding up a flagman's paddle at one Blue Ribbion meeting complaining about they are being paid. The only thing I would say about that is, until he has stood in 90 degree heat and held a paddle for 12 to 14 hours or stood on the back of a paver with 325 degree material coming out the back of it, then he should not try to speak to what it is worth per hour.
    Another gentleman from Mercer Co. suggested that the "county boys" do some paving. Well, screedmen, roller and paver operators don't grow on trees. By the time they get trained to perform the job, they would leave to earn higher wages.
    If the state wants to save money they should probably privatize the county sheds. Put the ditch cleaning, pipe installation, mowing and snow removal out for competitive bids. The same guys working for the DOH could be hired by the private companies and the state would not own all the equipment or the costs associated with it. A WVDOH supervisor could oversee the work and It would have to be more efficient.
    The real problem as I see it is the cost of materials continues to go up every year and the budget does not go up to allow for it. Aggregate, liquid asphalt and other materials increase every year and the state nor the contractors working for them have any control over those increases.
    It is time for tough decisions made by tough individuals. I am all for saving money in other places such as our housing of criminals.
    Who said that their housing had to be comfortable? WV is constantly building more prisons at the same rate as schools in most cases. What kind of deterent is that to individuals who commit crimes? Well, "if I get caught at least I will get 3 squres a day,a roof over my head and medical care"
    What about our higher education system? All the counties acrossed the state have been consolidating over the past 40 years. How many colleges have done this? Fairmont State is 17 miles from WVU, you would think that consolidation would be an option. In Mercer county you could hit a driver and a good 6 iron and hit the 2 institutions there.
    An who said that if we complain loud enough that the state will build a satillite school of your choice in the community you live in. WVU Parkersburg,Marshall of Charleston etc etc. Higher education is a privledge and leaving home to do that is the price most have to pay for it.
    Finally, most businesses in the state perform work in all 10 districts in WV but only have one office they work out of. So, why does each district have a office? Talk about saving some money! but all these things I have mentioned will be real unpopular across this state I'm sure.
    God Bless

    • Jephre

      Maybe YOU could hit them with a driver and a good 6-iron, but I'd need a driver, two 3-woods, a nine-iron and two wedges. On a good day.

    • Haley's Comet

      HMA, very good points. I agree 100% with your views on consolidating secondary education. We have college and universities throughout WV as well as sateelite locations that have made a college education somewhat of an entitlement. I would only ask that our elected officials publically announce their percentage of the State budget spent on education. Education is the catalyst for a strong state economy, however, a college degree should be something an invidicual is willing to travel or stay to achieve. We hear all too often our elected officials cutting wasteful spending in efforts to find revenue. I would ask that someone in elected office show us the Line Item for Wasteful, Fraudulent or Wasteful speninding so we can see the actual revenue this would generate. The mindset of cuttting revenue (i.e. the food tax) in doing more appears to be a stretch. We are in a time that we have needs that require attention. As it directly relates to highways, if in fact we have less meoney to maintain our raods, why can"t we consolidate our WVDOHT/DOH Districts to math the decreaced review we have.. If in fact we have less money is it fair to ask that it should take less oversight to administer this work. In addition we are seeing several new construction projects started, without the funding to fully complete. Des it not make senese that we would maintin what we have before adding addtitional miles to an already stressed budget. In closing, would it not make more sense that more revenue generated by the WVODT/DOH be degaited to the area of need. For example, all monies received for fuel taxes, DMV fees, vehicle taxes should go to repair and maintain our highways.

    • Haley's Comet

      Please overlook the misspelled words, obviously spell check does not work from an iPhone. However, the intent of the message maintains the same. We need to agree to increase revenue to repair our roads or stop complaining about their condition.

      • HMALLTHEWAY

        Well said Haley's Comet. You don't say much but when you do it's to the point and I applaud you for it. All except your spelling. My spell check is working fine. LOL.

        • Haley's Comet

          Thanks HMA,

          Maybe one day I can get a phone that has spell Check that works. LOL

          Maybe Someday

  • Bob

    I doubt the residents would like or stand for the GPS option

  • blugldmn

    Eliminate prevailing wage on DOH contracts.

  • Dennis

    The only way for "all" state residents to share the load as Gov. Tomblin forsees is to raise the sales tax from 6% to 7% or higher. This Blue Ribbon Commission is nothing more than a way for taxes to be increased without the Governor directly proposing the increase himself.

  • WVSon

    Is Mr Tomblin trying to justify a hike on food taxes or using food tax revenues on roads? Either is preposterous. Taxing food, an absolute necessity for life, is a criminal enterprise at best anyway.
    Perhaps Mr. Tomblin wants to alleviate the tax burden on transportation companies by forcing non-driving citizens to pave the way for them.
    Either way folks, I’d be watching this one carefully.

  • Justin

    I live in the Upshur County area and its been nothing but road work all summer and the result is 20 percent fixed and the other 80 percent is some patch job that's subpar to say the least. So in other words I'm gonna have to pay more for less???