Once the Idaho Legislature opens its 2009 regular session, Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter will call on lawmakers to increase the state’s fuel tax, raise registration fees for vehicles and take more steps to help pay for road and bridge work.
A spokesman for the governor said that funding for the Idaho Transportation Department has slumped. As a result, the agency is unable to keep up with needed repairs and new projects.
Details of Otter’s plan won’t be revealed until mid January, but the main points of the transportation plan include increasing vehicle registration fees while continuing to take into account the age of the vehicle. It is anticipated that the fee hike would generate $15 million the first year, Jason Kreizenbeck, the governor’s chief of staff, told the Idaho Statesman.
Otter also plans to pursue raising the 25-cent-per-gallon tax on gas and diesel by 2 cents annually during the next five years. In addition, he wants a task force to look at the state’s truck registration fee system before implementing increases.
With an eye on winning over critics of the plan, the governor also is calling for the ITD to trim its administrative costs by 6 percent, as well as participate in an efficiency review program.
ITD officials said they are hopeful the savings plan would raise an additional $240 million annually with the bulk of it being used by the agency. Local governments and the Idaho State Police would claim the rest.
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– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor