NYS Exposed: Only fraction of NYS gas tax goes towards infrastructure

September 14, 2017 11:39 PM

Drivers in New York State pay one of the highest gas taxes in the country. That money is supposed to be helping keep the state's road and bridges in good shape. But that's not happening. In fact, the way the system works now may be costing you more money.

Mike Elmendorf, Associated General Contractors NYS, says, "The governor himself has talked about the fact that we've got about 60 percent of our major roads and 6,000 bridges in New York that are in need of repair."

Advertisement – Content Continues Below

In 1991, lawmakers created a fund to pay for road and bridge work. Your state gas taxes go into that fund.  However, today only a small portion pays for actual work.

"I don't think that's news to any of your viewers,” says Elmendorf. “As they travel around, they're dodging potholes or looking at bridges that look like they've seen better days. It's pretty clear that we need more investment."

Let’s break it down. 

According to the comptroller's office, you pay about 33 cents in state tax on each gallon of gas - that's just state tax. That money goes into the dedicated highway and bridge trust fund. Two years later, lawmakers allowed the thruway authority to take some of the money to issue bonds. 

Eight years after that, they let the state DMV take some to cover operating expenses and the state received a portion for snow and ice removal. So what does that leave for road and bridge work?

Robert Ward, NYS Deputy Comptroller, says, “So this year, only approximately one dollar in five of the dedicated fund will go to new capital investments.”

The work is still getting done - the state budget office says the state's in the middle of implementing a record $27 billion dollar transportation plan. Calling it ridiculous to think they could do that without borrowing. They couldn't tell us how much more it costs in interest as a result.

Brian Kolb, NYS Assembly Minority Leader, says, "You're accumulating more debt, more interest charges, which costs the tax payer more money and future tax-payers more money.  That's the problem with it."

Kolb is one of many lawmakers that thinks we need to get back to the original intent of the fund. So how did we get so far from spending this money directly on our roads?

"Of course, in Albany they've changed that or kinda robbed that fund to pay for other expenses,” says Kolb. “That's how it slowly quietly occurs and even when that is happening they can say 'well we're only going to do it for two years or something' and all of a sudden it never goes away and I think that's exactly what happened here."


Brett Davidsen

Copyright 2017 - WHEC-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

Relay Media Amp

We no longer have Facebook comments on this site. Please visit our Facebook Page to join the conversation.