Gilmer Free Press

WV Legislative Update: Delegate Brent Boggs - Minority House Finance Chairman


As the special election to authorize sale of road bonds is only a couple weeks away, I’m beginning to have inquiries in person and by phone as to what it’s all about and why it must go before the voters prior to moving forward.  To provide information to those that may have missed it a few weeks ago in my weekly update, I’m going to reprint an information piece that our House Minority staff compiled.

Special Election for Amendment No. 1 - Roads to Prosperity Amendment of 2017

What:  Senate Joint Resolution 6 was passed by the Legislature at the request of Governor Jim Justice.  This resolution provides for a special election for the Roads to Prosperity Amendment of 2017.  If voters pass the proposal, the State of West Virginia will be authorized to issue and sell up to $1.6 billion in state bonds for road construction and improvements.  The state bonds are to be issued and sold over a four-year period based on the following schedule: FY2018- up to $800 million; FY2019- up to $400 million; FY2020- up to $200 million; FY2021- up to $200 million.

If the bond amendment is passed, the proceeds of the bonds will be used for highway construction and improvement. The funding may be used to match available federal funds for highway and bridge construction and for general highway and secondary road and bridge construction or improvements in all fifty-five counties. The bond money will not be used for projects on the West Virginia Turnpike.

The bonds will be paid off through funding from legislation that has already passed the Legislature. During the 2017 First Extraordinary Session, the Legislature passed Senate Bill 1006. This bill updated DMV fees, increased the wholesale gas tax, increased the sales tax on motor vehicles; and created new registration fees for alternative fuel vehicles.  These changes are expected to net approximately $126.5 million annually to dedicate to road bond payments. If the bond amendment fails, these increases will still be in effect. That funding will still be dedicated to road construction and improvement. However, the initial impact will be less significant.  An $11.7 million transfer from the General Revenue Fund to the State Road Fund will also be dedicated toward bond payment.

Why:    The bond would indebt the State of West Virginia because the debt would be financed over a multi-year period.  Because the Constitution of the State of West Virginia prohibits state debt, a constitutional amendment must be passed to allow the state to incur this debt.

When: Election Day: Saturday, October 07 - Polls open 6:30 am through 7:30 pm.

Voter Registration Deadline: Monday, September 18

Absentee Voting: Saturday, July 15 through Monday, October 02

Early Voting: Friday, September 22 through Wednesday, October 04

The cost of this election is estimated to be approximately $6 million.

I hope the above information is helpful in making a decision on whether or not to support the upcoming constitutional amendment.  It’s not a democrat or republican legislative proposal.  This was proposed by Governor Justice and must be put before the voters to make the call, as required by the WV Constitution.  It is very similar to the recommendation of the Blue Ribbon Commission set up by former Governor Tomblin to address our highway needs.

How did our roads get in such bad shape?  The cost of asphalt and other road building materials have skyrocketed over the past couple decades.  What it cost to pave four miles of road twenty years ago, now only covers one mile…unless you spread it so thin it’s a waste of money.  Also, newer model vehicles get much improved fuel mileage, which negatively affects the amount of road fund revenue available for roads, bridges and routine maintenance.  Plus, we have no county roads in West Virginia.  The county road system was dissolved decades ago to ensure some level of continuity across the state in terms of road priorities, maintenance and repair.  Additionally, there is no supplement to road funding from counties or local entities, unlike surrounding states.  Finally, it just costs more to build and maintain a road in the mountains of West Virginia as compared to relatively flat land in many states across America.

Based on the above factors, the available road funding for construction and maintenance has not kept pace with needs.  For instance, normal resurfacing schedules of 12 to 15 years have been extended in some instances to over thirty years – well beyond the expected lifespan of road surfaces. Ditches need pulled, culvert replaced, brush cut, slips and slides are in desperate need of attention.

All the funding set aside by the legislature will be used on roads, bridges and maintenance, regardless of passage.  However, passage will expedite road, bridge and maintenance projects needed to get our roads back in shape.  It will put people to work, helping businesses and the tax base.

Passage will not raise taxes.  The funding stream is already in place to secure the bond debt.  Citizens and businesses expect and deserve safe highways.  Ultimately, it’s up to you and me, the voters to decide.  Whatever you ultimately decide, make it an informed, fact-based decision.

Please send your inquiries to the Capitol office:  Building 1, Room 258-M, Charleston, WV 25305.  My home number is 304.364.8411; the Capitol office number is 304.340.3142.  If you have an interest in any particular bill or issue, please let me know.  For those with Internet access, my legislative e-mail address is:

You may also obtain additional legislative information, including the copies of bills, conference reports, daily summaries, interim highlights, and leave me a message on the Legislature’s web site at  When leaving a message, please remember to include your phone number with your inquiry and any details you can provide. Additional information, including agency links and the state government phone directory, may be found at Also, you may follow me on Facebook at “Brent Boggs”, Twitter at “@DelBrentBoggs” , as well as the WV Legislature’s Facebook page at “West Virginia Legislature” or on Twitter at

Continue to remember our troops - at home and abroad - and keep them and their families in your thoughts and prayers.  Until next week – take care.

--> Monday, September 18, 2017
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