Republican legislative leaders are downplaying the idea there’s much support among Republicans for a gas tax increase.
Senate Republican Leader Jerry Behn, of Boone considers the gas tax a “user fee,” but he says few G.O.P. senators would vote for it.
“I don’t see broad support for raising that this year,” Behn says. “I don’t know whether you could say anyone would vote for it or not.”
House Speaker Kraig Paulsen, a Republican from Hiawatha, says Republicans intend to implement the D.O.T.’s plan to redirect $50-million in the agency’s budget to road construction and maintenance and he, too, is downplaying talk of increasing the gas tax.
“Iowans are working hard and so, I mean, it’s important to that we make sure every dollar they send us is spent as most effective and efficient as possible and the D.O.T.’s not exempt from that,” Paulsen says, “so that’s what we’re going to do right now.”
House Democratic Leader Kevin McCarthy suggests Republicans are putting off a vote on a gas tax to avoid a showdown with Tea Party supporters. “They have come out very, very, very strong against any tax at any time for any reason, particularly the gas tax, and you see these strange comments coming out that seem to be contradictory from the governor, Republicans,” McCarthy says.
“Most of the people that lobby on this issue for an increase the gas tax are Republicans, in my opinion. I think they’re waiting ’til after the filing deadline to try to avoid primary challenges is my suspicion from the Republican right base.” March 16th is the deadline for filing the paperwork to have a candidate’s name appear on the June 5th Primary ballot.
Senate President Jack Kibbie, a Democrat from Emmetsburg, has decided not to run for reelection. He has been a long-time and unapologetic supporter of a gas tax increase. “You might not notice it but in these small towns, you know we’ve got 900 cities out there, and in many of these towns the streets are a disaster,” Kibbie says.
“The county roads…are just falling apart on us.” According to Kibbie, many livestock operators in northern Iowa have had to plow rural roads that lead to their operations this winter, as counties have quit plowing the roads to save money.