Idaho governor OKs GARVEE bill; NAFTA effort also approved

| 4/8/2008

Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter signed a bill into law authorizing a new bonding authority of $134 million for road improvements throughout the state. It is the latest installment in the “Connecting Idaho” program.

Another effort of interest to truckers approved in the Idaho Legislature calls for Congress to improve the North American Free Trade Agreement.

With the governor’s endorsement, the Senate voted 29-6 to authorize the third installment of grant-anticipated revenue vehicle bonds, or GARVEE bonds, to pay for road work. The House previously approved the measure on a 47-23 vote.

The funding program allows the state to borrow money against the annual federal transportation funding designated to pay for construction. The sale is based on the assumption that federal funding in future years would pay off the bonds. This allows the state to get money needed up front.

The $998 million Connecting Idaho highway initiative first was approved in 2006 by then-Gov. Dirk Kempthorne. During the past two years, the Legislature has authorized $450 million in bonds on GARVEE projects.

Among the 13 projects that could be funded through this year’s bonding authority extension include more lanes on Interstate 84 between Caldwell to Meridian, improvements along I-84 from Orchard to Isaacs Canyon in Boise, and work on U.S. 95 from state Highway 1 to the Canadian border.

The Idaho Transportation Department’s Board will make the final decision on what projects the GARVEE bonds will be spent.

The state’s Senate and House also endorsed a resolution encouraging Congress to improve NAFTA by correcting deficits, currency distortions and other provisions harmful to the U.S. economy and workforce, sovereignty and border security.

As introduced, the nonbinding legislation – SJM113 – sought to urge the U.S. to withdraw from the 1993 pact with Canada and Mexico.

Sen. Monte Pearce, R-Payette, amended the resolution to ask Congress to make improvements to the pact. If nothing changes, the measure calls for the U.S. to withdraw.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Idaho in 2008, click here.