PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Governor Gina Raimondo’s Rhode Works proposal was not included in the $8.67 billion budget approved by House lawmakers Tuesday. However, the Senate Finance Committee is taking up the plan, which would toll certain commercial trucks coming through the state, as a stand-alone bill.
The toll revenue would be used to fund approximately $700 million in road and bridge repairs over the next decade. The proposal has been met with resistance by the Rhode Island Trucking Association, and Republican lawmakers.
The latest version of the bill was presented by Senate Majority Leader Dominick Ruggerio. It offers Rhode Island trucking companies a rebate on their gas tax payments to the state. Ruggerio says the legislation will reduce long-term costs to taxpayers and motorists.
“Successful economic development depends upon a safe and reliable transportation infrastructure, and this legislation ensures that our state’s roads and bridges are in good repair well into the future,” Ruggerio said in a statement to Eyewitness News.
The governor’s office is also backing the revision saying, “This proposal is a smart, sustainable solution to reconstruct Rhode Island’s crumbling roads and bridges, and create thousands of jobs in the process.”
House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello does not oppose the measure, but has expressed that more needs to be done to lessen the impact on local companies.
“They posted the stand alone bill first, but we did hold a hearing in finance on the bill. So when we’re ready to move forward with the final product, we will do so,” Speaker Mattiello said.
The Senate Finance Committee will hear the revised bill on Thursday. Mattiello says he may hold off hearing it until a special session in the fall.
The Rhode Island Trucking Association had no comment on the revised proposal.