Last week the Rhode Island House Finance Committee approved a plan to create a $28 million transportation infrastructure fund.

Beginning July 1, the proposed budget will divert money from the state’s general fund, increase vehicle inspection fees from $39 to $55, and raise court fees drivers pay to dispute fines for traffic violations from $25 to $50. Fees from motor vehicle titles and rental surcharges will also support the budget. With this plan the state will avoid an unpopular proposal to raise tolls on the Sakonnet Bridge.

Starting July 2015, the plan will increase the state gas tax by 1-cent, a move that House Finance Committee Chairman Raymond Gallison says will produce an estimated $4 million a year. Subsequently that increase will be revisited every two years to reflect increases based on the rate of inflation.

House Speaker Nicholas A. Mattiello stated “I guess the headline is going to be no tolls on the Sakonnet River Bridge, but what we’ve accomplished is greater than that …. I think everybody has felt for a while that it was unfair to burden the East Bay with the toll expense …. What we have accomplished is we are going to better our infrastructure across the state.”

UPDATE: 6/17/2014
On Monday, June 16 the Rhode Island Senate passed the spending plan 32-5. Governor Lincoln Chafee has declared his intent to sign the budget.

UPDATE: 6/19/2014
Governor Lincoln Chafee has signed the budget into law.