Iowa group calls for boost to fuel tax

| Monday, January 31, 2005

Supporters of a four-lane U.S. Highway 20 in Northwest Iowa are asking state lawmakers to consider hiking the state’s fuel tax to pay for more roadwork.

The U.S. 20 Corridor Association pleaded its case for expansion to the Senate Transportation Committee Jan. 25.

Iowa’s diesel fuel tax is 22.5 cents per gallon, and the gasoline tax is 20.5 cents per gallon. The rates haven’t changed since 1989.

Buck Boekelman, representing the association, told the panel every penny added to the tax would raise $20 million.

Those dollars, along with use taxes paid on vehicle purchases, vehicle registration fees and federal money, make up the state’s road construction budget.

Completing the final 85-mile stretch of the highway from Moorland near Fort Dodge to Moville in Woodbury County would cost $450 million, the Sioux City Journal reported. The area has waited decades for the long-promised expressway to be completed.

Despite the delay, state transportation officials say they remain committed to the U.S. 20 project. Current plans include planning work on a 45-mile stretch between Moorland and Early.

Sen. Mark Zieman, R-Postville, a Transportation Committee member, said any attempt to raise the fuel tax must include a rewrite of the formula that distributes the money to rural and urban projects.

Lawmakers have failed in recent years to reach consensus on rewriting the formula.

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