So you all know I absolutely hate the idea of raising the Gas Tax during these difficult economic times. That’s not to say that I don’t believe in investing in our roads and infrastructure. If you listen to any of the legislators who support the gas tax increase you would think that Iowa hasn’t done anything to recently to help fund road improvements, which simply isn’t true.
Last year the legislation was passed and signed into law that increased vehicle registration fees substantially in our state. The increase in registration fees was one of the recommendations from the Time-21 study. The problem the legislators are having is that money isn’t rolling in fast enough. Remember Time-21 says that $200 million is needed per year at a minimum, but we should remember Time-21 is the Iowa DOT and just like every state agency they are lobbying for money. Just because state money goes for roads or schools does not mean we shouldn’t scrutinize their request.
I find it ironic that the story here isn’t about Speaker Murphy and Supreme Leader Mike Gronstal both wanting the increase and Governor Culver opposing it. Last session it was news worthy when they were at odds over labor issues, but we are not hearing anything about this dispute. Republicans need to be more disciplined, if the Governor is public in his opposition to the tax why on earth would anyone in the minority party think it’s a good idea to even address this issue until he publicly says he would sign it into law.
I don’t know why on earth we need to do this now. Like any family going through tough economic times we can fix what’s critically important now, and do the rest later. We also might be wise to see that the federal stimulus will mean to Iowa. If they want to fund shovel ready projects, nothing is better than roads. It also means that things bike trails will have to wait as I have yet to see major economic development take place around them.
I think the gas tax debate also feds into the labor bills that will be up for debate. On one hand we have all of these needs in terms of road construction, but at the same time they are pushing 4 huge labor bills which would raise the cost of construction exponentially. Which one is more important, roads, or the 12% of Iowans who belong to a labor union? I think we know that answer.
Finally, I’m troubled by the fact that Time 21 will not say what the immediate priorities are. They say they don’t want to politicize specific projects. What if there is some sort of bridge to nowhere? It’s our money they are spending; shouldn’t we know where it’s going? In FY07 Iowa received around $1.5 billion from state and local taxes and the feds, thats a lot of money for roads but yet we are being told another $200 million is a life and death matter. Meanwhile, I’m told that the Road Use Fund has more money it in now than ever before.
Would the goverment please stop taxing me. Go and find more money elsewhere in the budget to fix our roads. $200 million isn’t all that much to find in a $6.2 billion dollar budget; however the $400 to $500 a year a family will pay in increased taxes will hurt them.
I also was thrilled to see Iowans for Tax Relief come out against the gas tax. Historically they have been neutral in this matter. There help will be critical in getting Iowa Republicans to say no to higher gas taxes. Krusty Kudos to my good friends ins Muscatine.