- Associated Press - Friday, February 6, 2015

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) - A roughly $50 million state Senate transportation funding package that’s close to Gov. Dennis Daugaard’s proposal is headed to the full chamber after breezing through its first test in a Friday committee hearing.

The Senate State Affairs Committee considered a modified form of the governor’s plan, which would raise transportation funding through a variety of increases in fuel taxes, fees and other assessments. It replaced a much larger $100 million plan in the Senate that fell by the wayside as lawmaker support coalesced around something close to Daugaard’s proposal.

The debate over transportation funding is perhaps the most significant issue of the 2015 legislative session.

The committee’s proposal would end the 2-cent fuel tax increases, which the governor had proposed as ongoing, in 2023. Lawmakers added in about $1.5 million for local infrastructure through vehicle fee increases that would start next year.

The committee also expanded a wheel tax that could raise $400,000 if fully implemented at the local level and limited a registration fee increase for noncommercial trucks.

Daugaard said in an interview that he would prefer the tax increases to sunset in 2030, which is a provision in a House version of the proposal. That plan had its first legislative review this week.

“I’m not dissatisfied with any of the amendments,” Daugaard said. “I also am realistic that passage at the committee level doesn’t necessarily guarantee a two-thirds vote on the floor.”

Tax increases require two-thirds legislative support to implement.

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