Utah Lawmakers Could Override Transportation Veto
VETO SHOWDOWN: Utah Governor Gary Herbert will find out this week whether his veto of a transportation funding proposal is going to stand. Herbert's fellow Republicans in the legislature passed the measure to divert 30 percent of new sales tax revenue, or roughly $60 million next year, for road building. The governor defended his veto at a press conference last week. "Having flexibility — having the ability to come into session and look in real time at what are the issues of the day and then prioritize accordingly — is good budgeting practice," he said, according to The Salt Lake Tribune .
TOLL WORKERS: The New Jersey Turnpike Authority will not resort to hiring a private firm to collect tolls, as it had contemplated, now that the agency's toll workers have agreed to salary decreases, reports the Asbury Park Press . The turnpike had hoped to save $12 million to $14 million by using a private contractor before getting the salary concessions.
SOUND BARRIERS: South Dakota will get its first highway sound barriers, but members of the state's Transportation Commission are not happy about it, writes the (Pierre) Capital Journal . A federal official told the commissioners they would have to build a $4 million wall along the highway in Sioux Falls as part of a $10 million project. "You can buy a whole lot of ear plugs for four million dollars," said one commissioner. The federal government will pay 90 percent of the cost of the highway project and the barriers.
FEDERAL FUNDING: States and cities will likely get less federal money for transportation once Congress rewrites the long-stalled highway bill, predicts U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander. The senator, who once served as Tennessee's governor, suggested to local officials that they would have to make up the difference themselves. Specifically, he said that states and localities "will have to decide whether to have an increase in the gasoline tax," according to the (Memphis) Commercial Appeal .