When Kentucky business leaders came together in 2015 to develop a strategic plan for the state's economic growth, infrastructure investment was one of the four areas of emphasis. In the Four Pillars for Prosperity plan, business leaders identified the need for investment to "capitalize on the state's strategic advantages."
Kentucky, a state within a day's drive of 65 percent of the population, has affordable energy, five major interstate highways, a growing logistics industry, new manufacturing, agricultural development and many other opportunities. However, to further capitalize on our strengths and support the growth we've already experienced, we must invest in our transportation infrastructure.
For years, the chamber has championed infrastructure funding initiatives in Frankfort. In 2015 the chamber along with many stakeholders successfully advocated for statutory changes to shore up the road fund. While those changes stopped the bleeding of resources at that time, we continue to see funding for necessary roads and bridges come up short.
We cannot afford to miss an opportunity during the 2018 session of the General Assembly to make sustainable changes to our road fund formula. Kentucky faces a billion-dollar backlog of resurfacing projects, $500 million in annual need for new projects and maintenance of existing infrastructure, and 1,200 projects prioritized by the state for investment for either safety or economic reasons.
Kentucky is certainly not awash in revenue to make these improvements. Our pension crisis will continue to put pressure on policymakers, forcing them to make tough funding decisions on everything from education to public safety.
It is critical that policymakers consider increasing road fund revenue. Raising the motor fuels tax, ending or reducing diversions of money from the road fund to non-transportation projects, and raising certain fees are some of the changes being discussed.
The chamber continues to celebrate Kentucky's record breaking economic investment following a historic legislative session with many pro-business policy changes earlier this year. If we continue to expect this type of growth and want to serve those companies coming to Kentucky as well as our existing companies, we must make investments in our transportation infrastructure.
Dave Adkisson is president and CEO of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce.