Speaker Mac McCutcheon on gas tax, infrastructure: ‘It’s a shame’ we have not addressed the issue in over 25 years
In an interview that aired Wednesday on Huntsville radio’s WVNN, State House Speaker Mac McCutcheon (R-Monrovia) stressed the need for the legislature to address infrastructure, presumably through an increase in the gas tax that has not been raised since 1992.
McCutcheon argued the state’s quality of life was on the line given infrastructure was an ingredient of Alabama’s economic growth and noted that the states bordering Alabama have moved to address their transportation woes.
The Madison County Republican also addressed the politics of a gas tax hike, noting that it was not something candidates were shy about during the 2018 election cycle.
“This is an issue that affects the people of Alabama and our quality of life, and our economic growth,” he said on “The Jeff Poor Show.” “It is something that we have not addressed in over 25 years. It’s a shame that we have waited that long, but we have. Now we’re getting to the point where we cannot continue to just kick the can down the road. It’s a difficult, tough issue to address. But all of our surrounding states are addressing this issue. They’re improving their infrastructure needs, and we cannot sit here and fall behind when it comes to trying to compete for business and move our state forward. So, we’re at the point where this is an issue that must be addressed.”
“We talked about this on the campaign trail,” he continued. “Members running for office – they know that this is an issue, and we’re going to try to get as many facts and information out there to members and the public. We’re still working on a piece of legislation that we’re going to present. We haven’t got all the t’s crossed, and the i’s dotted, if you will.”
“But we’re looking at the transportation infrastructure plan, and it’s more — I hope people understand, as long as it has been that we’ve addressed our transportation needs, this is more than just a tax at the pump,” McCutcheon added. “This is an investment in our state. It’s one of the largest investments the people of Alabama invest in, and we’ve got to approach it from the standpoint that we’d like to have legislative input into the highway projects and the process. We want to work closely with the governor. We’ve got to look at the revenue streams we’re going to have available. We’re looking at the possibility of having federal dollars that we can match. Then at the end of the day, the way Washington is going – if they can’t do anything for us, it’s going to be on the state of Alabama to do what we need to do to fix our roads. There’s a lot of issues out there, but we’re going to address it.”
McCutcheon, who in addition to his speaker duties represents Alabama State House District 25 which includes Huntsville City, Madison City and East Limestone County, pointed to widening I-565 from I-65 to and through the city of Huntsville, Alabama Highway 53 from Madison County to the Tennessee-Alabama state line, U.S. Highway 72 east of Huntsville in the direction of Scottsboro and Winchester Road beyond the New Market area as places for improvement in and around his district.
“We’ve got some major arteries – I’m not even talking about some of the bridges we’ve got on some of our rural roads that need to be fixed that are on restriction now,” he added. “We’ve got plenty of projects in our area that need to be worked on.”