Sen. Fischer proposes sales tax shift to benefit roads

As legislators face what may be a billion-dollar budget gap, state Senator Deb Fischer of Valentine proposes a shift in sales taxes to benefit roads.
Fischer wants to dedicate a half-cent of state sales taxes to road funding for the next 20 years. Fischer says with her plan going into effect later, the tough budget-cutting will be out of the way.
The sales tax change would take effect in two years and should bring in $125-millon which would be committed to roads. Fischer says she intends the half-cent sales tax as more than a replacement for fading gasoline taxes.
She says the money would be used for preservation and maintenance of roads as well as new construction. Fischer says her plan would also send some of the money to local governments.
Bonding for road construction would also be an option under the bill, but Fischer says there would be a cap of $500-million dollars, and a deadline of the first five years of implementation.
Lawmakers expect a massive shortfall when they return to Lincoln in January. This fall, a state panel forecast Nebraska would have a $1.4 billion budget gap through mid-2013. Another group, made up of legislators, estimates the deficit at $986 million.
Thanks to Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton