The director of the Iowa Department of Transportation later today will release his plan for cutting $50-million from the D.O.T.’s budget. Governor Branstad asked for the plan last fall and the details will be revealed at 10 o’clock this morning.
“The first and most important thing we need to do is demonstrate to the public that we can reduce administrative costs and duplication and make government more efficient,” Branstad says. But it appears the governor is warming to the idea of raising the state gas tax next year, as a phase two of the plan to address road and bridge construction needs.
“We do recognize that in out-years there is a short-fall. I think they identified a short-fall of about $215 million,” Branstad says. “…I happen to think that the most equitable way to deal with that is a user fee.” Senator Tom Rielly, a Democrat from Oskaloosa, is chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee.
“I think we are about to start taking the first steps in 22 years to start fixing up our roads and bridges,” Rielly says. Rielly and the Republican chairman of the House Transportation Committee have proposed raising the gas tax by four cents in 2013 and another four cents in 2014.
They’d also increase the sales tax on vehicles to 6%, which would be equal the state sales tax charged on other purchases. Both of those increases, however, would happen after the $50-million in reallocation within the D.O.T. budget. The state’s 22 cents per gallon gas tax was set in 1989.