A lobbying group is promising a vigorous fight to keep Iowa’s roads in tip-top shape. Last week an interim legislative committee failed to recommend a new source of revenue to cover a projected $27 billion shortfall in the state fund used to pay for road construction and repairs.
But David Scott, a lobbyist for the Iowa Good Roads Association, expects the full legislature to do something in 2008. “This issue has gotten so much press in the last couple three months that certainly there’s disagreement on how to get there, but certainly there’s a heck of a lot more recognition of the need than there was even last year,” Scott says.
According to Scott, the public began paying more attention to road and bridge repair issues after that bridge collapsed in Minnesota. Legislators are reluctant to vote to raise the state’s gas tax to plug more money into the state’s road construction fund and the governor has said he opposes it.
While legislators may be reluctant to take such because some considered it a tough vote back in 1989 — the last time Iowa lawmakers approved a gas tax hike, Scott says he can find no evidence there was a backlash from voters.
According to Scott, “not one single legislator” who voted for the gas tax increase and lost their re-election in 1990 lost solely because of that vote. Even if the legislature were to pass a gas tax hike, Governor Chet Culver has said he will not sign it into law.