Iowa Department of Transportation Director Nancy Richardson doubts the legislature will consider raising the gasoline tax to fund road repairs this session. “I (told) folks during the summer I didn’t expect there would be a serious debate of a gas tax increase this session for a couple of reasons,” Richardson said.

For one, she says, an influx of new legislators will need time to study the issue. Secondly, Richardson says the DOT will have updated information next year about the need for road and bridge repair. The last study of Iowa’s transportation infrastructure concluded that addressing the most critical needs would require more than $250 million a year.

Richardson says a new five year study is underway, and it may show an even greater need. “With the bad weather that we’ve had, both summer and winter, for the last three or four years, the gap may even be wider,” Richardson said. “Our roads have taken a beating with every severe winter and every floody summer.” Many lawmakers have predicted that a gas tax hike is inevitable.

Richardson says next year looks better for a serious discussion of such a proposal. Iowa’s motor fuel tax, which has remained unchanged since 1989, raises about one-point-two billion dollars a year.