A committee appointed by the governor to review ways to fund transportation submitted its recommendations to the Iowa Transportation Commission today. The co-chair of the Governor’s Transportation Advisory Commission, Allan Thoms, says it’s no secret that one of the recommendations is raising the state gas tax.
Thoms says they recommend that the fuel tax be raised 10 cents for each gallon, and they also recommend that there be a one-percent increase on new vehicle registrations and that the D.O.T. recommend a funding mechanism for alternative fuel and highly fuel efficient vehicles.
Thoms says the committee wasn’t sure how much the owners of alternative vehicles that don’t pay tax for conventional gasoline should pay for the use and damage they may do to roadways, so they’re asking the D.O.T. to come up with a plan.
Thoms says they are “hedging for the future” so there is a mechanism that is equitable for everyone. He says they are also talking about commercial vehicles, as he says for example, there is a lot of talk about commercial trucking using natural gas as a fuel. Thoms says they recommend that state look at the funding in the road use fund be planned out every two years instead of five to keep up with technology.
He says they recommend that the D.O.T. meet annually with cities and counties to identify was to be efficient. Thoms says this is something they heard from people who want to be sure that things are being run efficiently. He says they recommend the D.O.T. complete a review of the costs assessed each vehicle that uses the roadways.
Thomas says they didn’t have the answers about all the exemptions out there for vehicles. He says they are asking the D.O.T. to complete that review by June of 2012 so it is know how much is being charged in fees for each category of vehicle. Former D.O.T. director, Nancy Richardson, co-chaired the committee.
Richardson says they had a lot of input that included the desire to keep the constitutional protections on new money raised for roads.
She says 95% of the money that currently goes to roads is constitutionally protected so it goes to road upkeep. Richardson says that now includes registration fees and the gas tax.
Richardson says one thing that was clear, is that Iowans want a “pay-as-you-go” approach when it comes to road repairs. Richardson says there were a couple of people who suggested the state sell bonds to pay for the repairs, but she says most were not interested in seeing the state sell bonds for the repairs. She says people have seen the trouble other states got into when they used bonds for road repairs.
The D.O.T. will use the recommendations from the committee to prepare its report to the legislature on the road funding issue.