Deal reached on Nevada highway funding proposal |

Deal reached on Nevada highway funding proposal

Associated Press Writer
Cathleen Allison/Nevada Appeal Nevada Assemblyman Kelvin Atkinson, D-North Las Vegas, talks during the Assembly Transportation hearing Thursday night at the Legislature.

Key Nevada lawmakers and Gov. Jim Gibbons announced an agreement Thursday on how to finance $1 billion in bonds to start work on the state’s most essential highway projects.

The new proposal would divert rental car and property taxes, plus $20 million per year from room taxes going to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. The money finance $1 billion in bonds for upgrades to Interstate 15 and U.S. 95 in the Las Vegas area and Interstate 80 in the Reno area.

The Assembly Transportation Committee voted Thursday for the proposal after it was supported by Gibbons, his state transportation chief, Susan Martinovich, and others.

Gibbons’ staffers were involved in negotiations on the plan with several lawmakers, including Assembly Transportation Chairman Kelvin Atkinson, Assembly Majority Leader John Oceguera, Sen. John Lee and Senate Transportation Chairman Dennis Nolan, all from the Las Vegas area.

While Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman complained that he wasn’t asked to participate in the negotiations, Gibbons said the gambling industry and visitors authority was involved. The governor added that the effort will ensure the 2007 legislative session “will not end without a plan to alleviate our transportation crisis.”

The new proposal was amended into AB595, originally a plan to raise a weight-and-distance tax to be paid by the trucking industry. That idea is now being scrapped. The amended AB595 now moves to the Assembly floor and from there to the Senate for final legislative action.

The state is facing a projected $5 billion shortfall in funding for transportation projects, partly because of high inflation in the cost of construction materials.