Fuel Smarts

Higher Overweight Fines Eyed in Maine

January 09, 2001

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Legislative leaders in Maine are fighting Gov. Angus King's proposal to prop up the state Highway Fund with money collected from overall state taxes, and truckers may get the raw end of the deal.

According to the Augusta Kennebec Journal, King has proposed a 53 percent increase in title fees for new vehicles, an increase of three to five times the fines for overweight trucks - which he says have not been raised in 25 years - and borrowing $41 million for road and bridge projects that would be repaid from the General Fund.
Deputy Transportation Commissioner Jane Lincoln says the increases are needed to fill a $60 million deficit in the upcoming two-year state transportation operating and capital construction budget, the paper said.
However, some legislative leaders have reservations about King's proposals, and House Republican Minority Leader Joseph Bruno says raising fines for truckers may end up being an option.
"I think if we're going to do a highway bond, we should do it with Highway Fund money," Bruno said. "And to do a 50 percent increase in title fees, that's a lot. I don't like the transfer [of funds] and I don't like the fee increase.
"Maybe we ought to raise fines [for overweight trucks], but... truckers have already taken a real hit with the cost of diesel fuel," he told the paper.
Democratic House Speaker Michael V. Saxl said that with cuts proposed in King's budget for health and childcare, he questions the governor's decision to use General Fund money to pay for transportation projects, stating the Highway Fund has its own sources of revenue.

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