The chairman of the Iowa Senate Transportation Committee says the federal stimulus package isn’t providing enough to cover the shortfall in the state fund which finances the construction and maintenance of roads and bridges.
Senator Tom Rielly, a Democrat from Oskaloosa, wants to raise the state gas tax to raise more money for transportation projects. "The stimulus package will help us. It’s gonna give us a good start, but that will take about $300 million of the $5.3 billion were looking at," Rielly says. "We still have to come up with $5 billion of the most critical needs."
Last week, Governor Culver pointed out the state’s getting $358-million for road and bridge projects and that’s more than the state spends in a year on the transportation network. Rielly says that’s just a fraction of what Iowa needs.
The last time legislators raised the state gas tax was in 1989, and Rielly says the "buying power" of the 21 cents per gallon tax has decreased significantly. "Simply because the cost of concrete, steel, payroll, insurance, fuel — everything has just absolutely gone through the roof, whereas the Road Use Tax Fund has just been stagnant," Rielly says. Rielly made his comments on the Iowa Public Radio program, "The Exchange."