A bill that seeks to fill a hole in the state’s road construction fund has cleared another hurdle at the statehouse, but it won’t be an increase in the gas tax plugging the gap. The bill raises license fees for vehicles purchased in Iowa.

Senate Democratic Leader Mike Gronstal of Council Bluffs says candidates for the legislature will talk with Iowans in the fall campaign about raising the gas tax. "I think people now recognize there’s a way for us to reach the goal of coming up over the next few years with $200 million in revenues for our transportation system in this state," Gronstal says.

Late last year, Governor Culver said with gas prices so high, now is not the time to raise the gas tax. Earlier this week, Culver indicated he might be willing to back a gas tax increase in 2009. "The governor, in a cooperative way, opened the door that had been closed earlier," Gronstal says. "I think that’s a very positive signal." The legislation which cleared the Senate Ways and Means Committee Tuesday would increase the license fees Iowans will pay on newly-purchased vehicles.

Senator Mark Zieman, a Republican from Postville, says it’s time to act on the plan."We’re certainly going to have to do something with our roads, so let’s get it out on the floor where it can be debated," Zieman says. Zieman and others admit there may be a political backlash against senators who vote to increase vehicle license fees.