NEBRASKA LEGISLATURE

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Sen. Mike Groene

Sen. Mike Groene

District 42

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For a complete transcript of the Transportation Innovation Act floor debate on 3/15/2016, please click HERE. My statement begins on page 194 (page 24 of the document) and is also copy and pasted below.

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SENATOR GROENE: THANK YOU, MR. PRESIDENT. I APPRECIATE SENATOR SMITH’S WORK ON THIS. HE’S MORE PATIENT THAN I AM AND HE WORKS HARD TO COME TO COMPROMISE. THE ORIGINAL BILL THERE WAS…I WOULD HAVE PROBABLY FILIBUSTERED IT AT $150 MILLION, OR ATTEMPTED TO, BECAUSE I’M A BIG, FIRM BELIEVER OF USER TAX, AND THAT’S WHAT GAS TAX IS. BUT THE COMPROMISE IS, AS THEY SAY IN POLITICS, IT’S BEARABLE. SO I’LL SUPPORT LB960 AS LONG AS $50 MILLION IS THE ONLY MONEY THAT COMES OUT OF MY INCOME AND SALES TAXES TO BUILD ROADS AND THE REST OF IT IS FUNDED BY USER TAXES AND FUEL TAXES. BUT WE’VE TALKED A LOT HERE ABOUT DISREPAIR OF THE ROADS. WELL, LET ME TELL YOU, FOLKS, I DROVE THE WHOLE HIGH PLAINS AND NEBRASKA HAS DONE A GOOD JOB WITH THEIR ROADS. THEY ARE NOT IN DISREPAIR; BRIDGES, YES, MAINLY BECAUSE WE’RE GETTING BIGGER, AGRICULTURE IS GETTING BIGGER, EQUIPMENT IS GETTING BIGGER. THEY JUST CAN’T HANDLE WHAT WE HAVE OUT THERE NOW. BUT THE TAXPAYERS REMEMBER NOW AND IN ONE MORE YEAR WE’LL BE 31.5 CENTS ON FUEL TAXES. THAT’S THE HIGHEST IN THE REGION BY FAR. AND WE GENERATE $410 MILLION A YEAR FROM THAT FUEL TAX THAT WE SPEND EVERY YEAR. AND SENATOR FISCHER’S LB84, THE STATE’S PORTION IS $63 MILLION. THAT WAS SUPPOSED TO HAVE BUILT THESE EXPRESSWAYS. AND THEN WE GET ANOTHER $200-AND-SOME MILLION A YEAR FROM THE FEDS. SO IT’S NOT CHICKEN CHANGE OR CHUMP CHANGE OR WHATEVER YOU WANT TO CALL IT. TAXPAYERS HAVE HISTORICALLY IN THIS STATE SUPPORTED THEIR ROADS, SO I DON’T THINK WE NEED TO ACT LIKE WE’VE SAVED THE DAY. DOES THIS ACCELERATE IT? I DON’T KNOW WHERE THEY’RE GOING TO GET THE EMPLOYEES TO DO THIS, BECAUSE WE’RE LOW UNEMPLOYMENT, AND WHAT CONSTRUCTION COMPANY CAN BUILD THAT ROAD THAT QUICK NOW ONCE WE INFUSE THE MONEY INTO IT, BUT I’M WAITING TO SEE HOW THAT HAPPENS. BUT $50 MILLION IS ACCOUNTABLE. WE CAN ACCOUNT FOR THAT EASIER. IT’S NO RUSH TO SPEND IT. AND THEN AS IT TRICKLES IN OR COMES IN, NOT A TRICKLE, A PRETTY GOOD FLOW OF 2 CENTS A GALLON TAX IN THE FUTURE, IT MAKES SENSE. BUT I’M STILL CURIOUS WHAT WE’RE GOING TO DO WITH THE $63 MILLION OF LB84. WHERE IS THAT GOING NOW? IS THAT ALSO STILL MEANT FOR EXPRESSWAYS OR WHAT ARE WE DOING WITH IT? OR DO WE NEED IT ANYMORE? I THINK SENATOR KRIST DROPPED A BILL TO GET RID OF THAT AT ONE TIME. BUT I CAN LIVE WITH THIS, AND AS 1 SENATOR OUT OF 49, KNOWING THAT MY TAXPAYERS ARE PAYING A LOT FOR FUEL TAX RIGHT NOW. ALSO AN IDEA THAT I’VE BEEN PUSHING BECAUSE I TRAVEL THE HIGH PLAINS IS IN CERTAIN AREAS WE REALLY DON’T NEED A FOUR-LANE EXPRESSWAY. THERE’S THESE…THE CONCEPT OF THE “SUPER TWOS,” COLORADO USES IT, KANSAS USES IT, WYOMING USES IT, WHERE EVERY ONCE IN AWHILE IT’S A FOUR-LANE ON HILLS AND AREAS WHERE DRIVERS BECOME FRUSTRATED OR ACCIDENTS ARE MORE LIKELY TO HAPPEN, WHERE EVERY TEN MILES OR SO YOU TURN IT INTO A FOUR LANE GOING UP THE HILLS. THAT MAKES SENSE TO ME. HIGHWAY 50 IN KANSAS IS WELL TRAVELED, AND THEY HAVE DONE THAT THERE, AND IT KEEPS THE FLOW OF TRAFFIC GOING, PLUS THE COST IS A LOT LESS FOR MAINTENANCE AND FOR BUILDING. BUT I WOULD HOPE THE STATE OF NEBRASKA DEPARTMENT OF ROADS LOOKS AT THAT INSTEAD OF PUTTING A LOT OF CONCRETE OUT THERE THAT’S NOT NECESSARY. SO I THANK SENATOR SMITH FOR HIS EFFORTS–AND I CAN LIVE WITH THIS–AND SENATOR MELLO FOR WORKING WITH SENATOR SMITH AND THE GOVERNOR’S OFFICE. AND LET’S PUT THIS ON THE BACK BURNER. LET’S SEE HOW THIS WORKS NOW BEFORE WE COME BACK AND START THROWING MORE MONEY AT IT IN THE FUTURE. LET’S SEE IF IT ACTUALLY WORKS. CAN WE DO THAT ONCE? WE NEVER ALLOWED SENATOR FISCHER’S BILL TO WORK COMPLETELY. APPARENTLY IT DIDN’T. BUT THANK YOU.

Sen. Mike Groene

District 42
Room #1107
P.O. Box 94604
Lincoln, NE 68509
Phone: (402) 471-2729
Email: mgroene@leg.ne.gov
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