A key legislator is reluctant to talk about raising the state’s gas tax to find the money to repair the magnitude of damage to the state’s roads and bridges. House Democratic Leader Kevin McCarthy of Des Moines suggests now is the wrong time to take a bigger bite at the pump.
"If you have a group of individuals in a particular community that’s been very, very hard hit and you’re looking to get some sort of package together to help them, hitting them with a tax increase is probably not the best way to do it," McCarthy says. The state’s road construction and repair fund was running short before, unable to keep up with maintenance of the state’s transportation system even before the floods hit.
Late last year, Governor Chet Culver ruled out a gas tax increase as a means of increasing the amount of money going into that fund and McCarthy says raising the gas tax now would be a "last resort." "There’s bonding mechanisms. There’s infrastructure funds. There’s a whole variety of federal aid," McCarthy says. "There’s going to be insurance obligations that are going to have to cover these situations, so (raising the gas tax) is just something I don’t see on the radar screen."
According to McCarthy, state legislators won’t be considering any sort of tax increase in the wake of this year’s flooding. "I don’t think that would be something that’s on the horizon," McCarthy says. The governor and legislative leaders have discussed reconvening the legislature in special session in the next few months to deal with flood-related issues, but McCarthy says there’s a lot of work that must be done before that could happen. McCarthy made his comments on Iowa Public Television.