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Ivey signs gas tax bill into law

The Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed a bill into law Tuesday to increase the state’s fuel tax by 10 cents for the next three years. Ivey said the tax will fund road and bridge construction and maintenance.

The Alabama Senate passed the main bill by a vote of 28-6. Alabama Senator for District 22 Greg Albritton voted in favor for the bill. Alabama State Rep. Alan Baker said Ivey called a special session so that the legislature would have to focus specifically on the infrastructure system issue.

“Part of planning for success is ensuring that we have a robust economy and ample public safety,” Ivey said. “We can help tackle both of these issues with a reasonable increase in the investment we make in our state’s infrastructure system.”

Ivey said it has been almost three decades since Alabama has made a change to the state’s infrastructure funding.

“County governments currently operate on a 56-year resurfacing schedule; when, in fact, we should be operating on a 15-year rate,” Ivey said. “Half of our more than 16,000 bridges are older than their 50-year life span.”

During Ivey’s State of the State Address, she made a case for funding the infrastructure system by relating the issue to the state’s economic growth and quality of life. She said deepening and widening the Port of Mobile, Alabama’s only deep-water port, which moves approximately 64 million tons of cargo each year, will increase Alabama’s economic capability. Ivey also said one-third of the nearly 3,000 traffic fatalities from 2015 to 2017 were due to deficiencies in the Alabama roadways.

The House passed the main bill in the three-bill package with bipartisan support by a vote of 84-20 after about five hours of debate. Baker, who voted for the bill, said it was not astonishing to see the strong support for the infrastructure funding bill because of the benefits the bill will bring to the entire state. Ivey said a renewed investment in infrastructure will lead to safer roads, economic prosperity and an enhanced quality of life.

Funding has been diverted from the Alabama Department of Transportation to supplement the state’s court system and law enforcement agency every year, but Ivey said she will cut this annual transfer in half without hurting the court system or the state law enforcement officers. Ivey said she will make certain these monies are spent solely on transportation infrastructure.

“Many citizens expressed if any infrastructure bill were to be considered, there needed to be more accountability of revenues collected and how such funds were to be used,” Baker said. “For that reason, there was a very thorough and stringent infrastructure accountability bill that was taken up first before the actual infrastructure funding bill was considered by the House.”