With a little less than three months remaining before the start of the next regular session in Iowa, an interim committee of state legislators is discussing options to pay for road and bridge work.
The panel was created after the Iowa Department of Transportation revealed that state, city and county roads are staring at a $28 billion shortfall for road and bridge work during the next two decades.
Lawmakers aren’t limiting their discussion to a few options to fill the $200 million yearly funding gap. The possibilities drawing consideration include increasing the fuel tax rates and other fees.
Sen. Tom Reilly, D-Oskaloosa, said he understands none of the options will be popular among voters. He also acknowledged that lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are leery of getting behind tax increases for road work with the 2008 election season looming.
Nevertheless, legislators have to do something now or the problem will continue to grow, Reilly told Radio Iowa.
The most-discussed option for eating into the funding shortfall is boosting the state’s per-gallon tax rates on diesel and gas by 9 cents. Other options include boosting vehicle registration and driver’s license fees and stiffer fines for overweight trucks.
The Legislature’s interim committee studying transportation funding is expected to meet again on Nov. 19. House and Senate lawmakers will work to hammer out recommendations before the regular session opens Jan. 7.
To view other legislative activities of interest for Iowa in 2007, click here.
– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor