With the state’s population projected to increase more than 40 percent by 2040, there is a significant need for new roads and highways, as well as for mass transit and other methods of transportation. The FY 2019 budget contains approximately $1.6 billion for the Department of Transportation (UDOT) to help ensure that Utahns continue to enjoy a high degree of mobility. This funding is on top of approximately $250 million in highway bonding that is programmed to be spent in FY 2019.
The state will begin providing ongoing funding for transit projects, instead of relying primarily on local sales taxes. FY 2019 will see several transformative changes to transportation funding mechanisms. The goal is to place the burden of transportation funding more squarely on those who use the roads, as opposed to continuing to more heavily rely on general state funds over time. Changes include the following:
- Registration fees on electric vehicles will increase to support road use. This will offset the lack of gas tax owners pay. Registration fees for all vehicles will now be tied to inflation to ensure the fees don’t decline in real terms.
- UDOT will begin a road usage charge pilot program. Most Utahns won’t be affected by this in the short-term, but in the long-term this funding mechanism will likely shift road funding away from gas taxes and towards charging drivers for the miles they drive on Utah roads.
In November Utahns will have the opportunity to vote on whether they want a 10-cent increase to the gas tax. If adopted, this increase will allow earmarked sales taxes that currently go to transportation to be redirected to education.