Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Just in from the Statehouse

Otter Proposes Highway Plan

Boise--Gov. Butch Otter introduced a package of bills today at the Statehouse annex in hopes of raising $174 million to fix Idaho roads.

The five bills include:
1) Shift current $16 million annual funding of the Idaho State Police from the highway distribution account to the state general fund over a five year period;

2) Apply a 6% fee on rental cars to increase funding for highways and bridges $2 million per year;

3) Increase state fuel tax 2¢ per year over a five year period for a total annual $88 million after the fifth year;

4) Increase vehicle registration fees for cars from a maximum annual $48 to over $120 within a five year period. Following the same period, light trucks fees would progressively increase. Other vehicles like hearses, motorcycles, wreckers, ambulances, cabs and buses would have fee increases over the five year period. Heavy truck fees would be further evaluated by a task force to evaluate if truckers are paying their fair share, but they would see a first year 5% fee increase generating $2.5 million;
5) Elimination of the current ethanol fuel tax exemption at $4.1 million per year.

A spokesman for the governor said the tax money is enough to maintain existing state highways but some lawmakers said that the timing of increases doesn't fit the economic times while others promise compromise legislation in the coming weeks that will take into consideration current economic crisis.

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