Three members of the House Transportation Committee will travel to Virginia this week to learn more about how the state pays for its road construction projects.
Delegates Daryl Cowles, Paul Espinosa and Gary Howell, all Republicans from the Eastern Panhandle, will make a trip to Richmond, Va., this Wednesday to meet with William Howell, speaker of Virginia's House of Delegates.
Delegate Gary Howell, R-Mineral, said the group is dissatisfied with the recommendations of Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin's Blue Ribbon Commission on Highways.
"Every answer they came up with was raise taxes in one form or another. Anything the government collects from taxpayers is a tax, regardless of whether you call it a fee or a toll," he said.
Tomblin established the commission in August 2012 to come up with ways to fund highway construction and maintenance over the next few decades.
The state currently budgets $709.3 million per year for construction and maintenance of its bridges and roads. But West Virginia needs an additional $672.6 million per year just to maintain current conditions, or $847.7 million per year to bring all its roads and bridges up to engineers' full design standards, according to a recent study.
Commission members finalized their recommendations last month, suggesting the state could raise about $1.1 billion in funding over the next 20 years if it increased fees at the Division of Motor Vehicles, borrowing money against the West Virginia Turnpike and increasing tolls on the road to pay those bonds off.
Cowles said the commission did not look hard enough at ways to increase road funding without asking taxpayers for more money.
"It's so easy to say we need more money and these things can be done," he said. "The answers can't always be going back for more money."
Cowles said he thinks West Virginia would have more money for road construction if lawmakers placed infrastructure higher on their list of priorities and eliminated waste.
He said the state also should consider reworking its prevailing wage requirements -- required hourly wages any contractor working for the state must pay its employees.
Howell said the state should take a closer look at matching funds it contributes to federal roads projects, and whether that money would be more useful elsewhere.