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Nova Scotia wants highway budget doubled

HALIFAX, N.S. - David Darrow, Nova Scotia's deputy minister of transportation, is calling for Ottawa to inject $16...

HALIFAX, N.S. – David Darrow, Nova Scotia’s deputy minister of transportation, is calling for Ottawa to inject $160 million into the province’s highway repair system double the current budget to keep it from falling further behind.

“The feds collect between $135 million and $140 million a year in fuel excise taxes, and they’re only returning $5 million of that a year to the province. They could, if they returned that money to the province, make a fairly substantial contribution to the highway system,” Darrow testified before the legislature’s public accounts committee.

Without that extra money, Darrow said the province will be forced to continue with its current ‘band-Aid’ highway improvement approach. Darrow told the public accounts committee that the province spends $50 million more on highways than it taxes in from fuel taxes.

Halifax-Fairview NDP MLA Graham Steele accused the department of inflating the $160-million figure, saying it includes such expenses as health benefits for employees and the Transportation Department’s main office bills.

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