Idaho road funding bill would cost truckers

| 3/14/2008

In an effort to boost funding for roads and bridges in Idaho, a bill in the state’s Senate would implement a new mileage fee on large trucks. Registration fees also would be amended.

Sen. Tim Corder, R-Mountain Home, and Sen. Shawn Keough, R-Sandpoint, introduced a bill that would require trucks weighing more than 60,000 pounds to pay $660 in annual registration fees. Truck owners also would be responsible for an additional 4.5 cents for every mile traveled on Idaho roads.

The registration fee now is determined by the maximum gross weight of a vehicle and the total number of miles driven on roads in the state.

According to a fiscal analysis on the bill, the fees would generate $57.5 million annually for transportation projects. Nearly $33 million would be allotted for state highways. Another $21 million would go for local projects while nearly $3 million would be earmarked to the State Police.

Corder, owner of an Idaho trucking company, said more fees are needed because the current system allows out-of-state truckers to travel Idaho roads without paying their full share. Idaho-owned trucks would likely keep their costs stable, he said.

That doesn’t make any sense to owner-operator Jim Moore. The Caldwell, ID, resident and OOIDA member said the bill would hurt everybody.

“We’re already strapped against the wall with $4 fuel. Now they want to add this on,” Moore told Land Line Magazine. “How many guys do you want to drive out of business? How much more do you want to pay for your product?”

Also included in the bill is a provision that would affect trucks at the county level. Registration fees would be increased for vehicles with maximum gross weight between 8,000 pounds and 60,000 pounds.

The funding measure was brought before lawmakers in the days following Gov. Butch Otter’s decision to withdraw his plan to hike registrations for all vehicles by a flat $150 fee. He offered the plan to help the state cope with a road funding shortfall of about $200 million in coming years.

The fees sought by Otter would have brought in $200 million annually by 2011, The Associated Press reported.

The governor said he still believes a plan can be worked out this year to address transportation needs. Higher fees for large trucks are a part of that plan.

Moore said it is frustrating that lawmakers view truck drivers as cash cows while motorists seem to come away unscathed.

“It’s the same old deal where they’re trying to make the trucks pay the way that the cars basically get a free ride on,” Moore said.

He also pointed out that while truckers would take a direct hit from the added fees, the effects would be felt by many more people.

“The consumer’s going to pay for this in the end,” he said.

The truck fees bill – H603 – is in the House Transportation Committee.

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

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor