In a state with more
registered vehicles than residents, North Dakota Gov. John Hoeven on Dec. 8
proposed adding $15 to the cost of licensing each vehicle, including large
The fee increase,
part of the governor’s $5.5 billion budget proposal, would generate $20 million
during the next two years.
Hoeven, a Republican,
said the increase was necessary to supplement federal highway aid that the
state relies on for road construction and repairs. The registration increase
would allow the state to gets its maximum share of federal highway aid, Hoeven
The state has fallen
$6 million short in matching funds in the past two years.
extensive debates about whether the needed state highway construction funds
should be raised by increasing registration fees, or by bumping up the state’s
motor fuels tax, which is now 21 cents per gallon for gasoline, ethanol-blended
gas and diesel fuel.
House Minority Leader
Merle Boucher, D-Rolette, said he prefers raising the state’s fuel tax by a
penny – a proposal rejected by the 2003 General Assembly – so out-of-state
drivers pay their share of highway maintenance.
“I couldn’t, as we
speak today, vote for an increase in registration,” he told The Forum.
Leader Bob Stenehjem, R-Bismarck, said he generally doesn’t favor tax increases
of any sort.
“However, I have
always supported making the match for federal highway funds,” he said. “And I
think the citizens want us to and we need to make those matches.”
raised registration for most vehicles by $7 in 2001 and $3 in 2003.
Registration fee amounts
depend on a vehicle’s age and weight. Hoeven’s proposed increase would affect
more than 670,000 vehicles registered in the state. Snowmobiles, motorcycles,
boats and trailers would not be affected.