Highway Issues Hit Eggs & Issues
Oskaloosa, Iowa – Funnel week is upon the Iowa Legislature this week, which means that any bills that have not cleared predetermined hurdles won’t be making their way to the floor this session…with some possible exceptions.
The gas tax has been a part of debate for 3 years now, since a ten cent proposed increase cleared a senate committee, bringing the debate to the forefront of Iowa’s politicians and their constituents.
But since that time, the debate has started to mature. With the proposed ten cent increase still discussed, other forms of road funding are now being explored.
One visitor to Eggs and Issues asked the legislators on hand how, in 1956, the United States was able to finance the interstate highway system. “Well I don’t know Paul. Wasn’t ready for this one, but I will say this…we didn’t spend two-thirds of the taxpayer money on entitlements in 1956,” said Sen. Rozenboom.
An example of that would be peeling off two percent of the state’s tax receipts off the top and adding them to the road use fund to supplement the current tax. Another option being discussed is often called an excise tax. Excise taxes are typically passed along to the consumer, in this case, what the price of fuel at the pump would be.
“Some things you just as soon not deal with, right? But we have to,” Sen. Roozenboom said of having to look at the state’s highway infrastructure and the money needed to keep it maintained. “I know what the polls say. I know that Iowan’s, a majority of Iowan’s, do not favor a gas tax increase. I also know that the majority of Iowan’s say we have a lot of problems with our roads, so that becomes the difficult part of dealing with this.”
“What I have always pushed for, and continue to push for, is a recognition that, yes, we need to fund our roads better. But I’d like to couple that with a solution that doesn’t lead to us having this same argument 10 years down the road. I would like to index the road-use tax fund in some fashion that it moves with inflation,” added Rozenboom.
Rozenboom would like to see the tax move to an excise tax that would be based upon a percentage of the cost of a gallon of gas. So as the price increases on fuel, more revenue is generated. If the price decreases, the revenue then decreases. Those proposals would need to help more rural counties, like Mahaska County, keep more of its money in order to garner the Senator’s favor.
Rep. Guy Vander Linden (R-Oskaloosa) has shared a consistent message over time of not supporting any additional taxes on the taxpayers. Vander Linden touched on the two proposals concerning gas tax increases. One of those was in the House, the other the Senate. He touched on those bills, one of them the before mentioned two percent of tax receipts to be placed into the road use fund. The other would have taken one-half of a percent of current sales tax and placed that into the road-use fund.
“Those both failed to get through the funnel. That in my mind leaves one more option. That is, if you raise the gas tax, you lower some other tax or taxes so that net to Iowa taxpayers is zero,” Vander Linden said.
The next Eggs and Issues is on March 7 at 8:30 a.m.
An impromptu poll conducted at Eggs and Issues had attendees favoring an increase in the gas tax, tell us what you think about an increase in taxes to help fix Iowa’s roads.