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Bill would raise motor fuels tax rate

FRANKFORT - Kentucky's motor fuels tax would rise under a bill advanced Tuesday by a key House committee, which endorsed restoring a higher rate in place last year to generate more revenue for transportation projects statewide.

The measure would increase the tax at the pump by 1.5 cents a gallon from the current level, which automatically took effect at the start of 2014.

The tax is scheduled to drop another seven-tenths of a cent per gallon on April 1 without the proposed change.

The bill, part of a broader revenue measure, would adjust the formula that helps set the tax on sales of gasoline, diesel and ethanol.

Gov. Steve Beshear proposed the change in January to supply additional revenue for road and bridge work across the state.

The House Appropriations and Revenue Committee endorsed the change Tuesday while passing the revenue measure.

"I can't imagine ... how we can keep our roads in any kind condition if we cut that tax," said Rep. Robert Damron, D-Nicholasville.

The bill next goes to the full Democratic-run House for a vote that could come as soon as Wednesday. It then would shift to the Republican-led Senate.

It's seen as a companion to the state budget proposal, which the committee also sent to the full House on Tuesday.

The proposed $20.3 billion, two-year state budget closely resembles the governor's spending recommendations.

The House version maintains Beshear's request to increase the main state funding formula for kindergarten through 12th-grade classrooms. It proposes more funding for textbooks and preschools but at lower amounts than Beshear recommended.

It proposes pay raises for state employees, teachers and other school workers.

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