Governor renews road revenue rhetoric, but still no plan

After almost two years of pitching the general idea that increased revenue for highway construction and maintenance is needed, Gov. Bill Haslam is renewing the rhetoric and focusing on state legislators – but still without giving any specific proposal.

Further from The Times-Free Press:

“What we’ve been doing so far is saying what are the needs, what will that cost us and let’s figure out different ways that we might pay for that,” Haslam told reporters. “And now it’s time to begin having those conversations again with legislators.”

He added “there’s no way on something this hard and big you do it without support of the legislators, so we’re going to begin those conversations.”

…Haslam and Transportation Commissioner John Schroer estimate Tennessee has a $6 billion backlog on previously approved projects with billions of dollars more in various transportation needs that have yet to get off the drawing board and be placed on an already very long line for inclusion.

… “Whether you live in downtown Nashville or you live in Pulaski, we have to have a plan that works for all of those,” he said, adding that the “challenging piece of that is obviously how are you going to pay for it.”

…Haslam, meanwhile, is still making the argument it would be better to deal with the issue now than leave it to confront his successor in 2019.

“Sooner rather than later is better when you have a governor in the last two years of his term rather than someone coming in new,” Haslam said.

Note: See also the AP story, which begins thusly: The dust may have settled on legislative elections and leadership votes, but Republican Gov. Bill Haslam doesn’t appear any closer to divulging his plans for boosting transportation funding in Tennessee.

And The Tennessean, which has this quote from the governor: “As I’ve said 100 times, our current path is not sustainable,” Haslam said.

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