Dozens of bridges were swept away and hundreds of miles of roadways were damaged by this spring’s floodwaters, but Governor Chet Culver says he does not favor raising the state’s gas tax to finance repairs. "I do not believe we should raise the gas tax," Culver says. "However, there are other options in terms of generating revenue to pay for significant infrastructure needs."
During the Friday morning taping of the "Iowa Press" program which airs on Iowa Public Television, Culver talked about turning roads over to private companies, as some states have done, creating toll roads for which you pay a small fee to drive. During a Friday afternoon telephone conversation with Radio Iowa afterwards, Culver said he was merely talking about what other states have done and wouldn’t recommend such "privatization" of roads, but Culver would consider having the state borrow money to pay for repairs. "I don’t pretend today to have the silver bullet in terms of finding those precious resources that we need to maintain our infrastructure, but there are a lot of options on the table," Culver said on IPTV. "That has to be part of our discussion."
According to Culver, there may be enough federal aide sent Iowa’s way to cover the costs of repairing storm-damaged roads and bridge crossings. "We’ll be drawing down potentially hundreds of millions in federal assistance now," Culver said on IPTV. "We have 1500 miles of roads and 400 miles of railroads that were impacted by the flooding."
Culver also pointed to action this past spring which set in motion a series of increases in the fees for registering new vehicles. That’s a move Culver says will raise millions more for the construction and maintenance of Iowa’s roads and bridges.