Key lawmakers agree it’s unlikely the legislature will vote in 2014 to raise the state gas tax, but they disagree on the reason. Senate Democratic Leader Mike Gronstal of Council Bluffs lays the blame on Republican Governor Terry Branstad.
“Every hoop he’s asked us to jump through, we have jumped through and he’s still not there,” Gronstal says. “…I can’t figure out what will move the governor on this subject.”
Gronstal says Branstad insisted on efficiencies in the DOT’s budget, called for tax cuts in other areas, and appointed a commission to study the issue and while Gronstal says all those “hoops” have been jumped, Branstad still hasn’t come out in favor of a gas tax increase.
“I don’t know what the governor wants and until he decides, it’s not very easy for the legislature to get something done,” Gronstal says. “I’m fairly confident I couldn’t muster 34 votes for it to override a veto.”
Key Republican lawmakers aren’t wild about a gas tax hike.
“I don’t think there’s many Republicans who ran on a platform to come down here and take more money out of Iowans’ pockets,” says House Speaker Kraig Paulsen, a Republican from Hiawatha. “I have no doubt that there are some Democrats who did, but that’s not where we’re at.”
Senate Republican Leader Bill Dix of Shell Rock says public opinion is against a gas tax hike.
“You’re probably not going to see members of the legislature go against the popular view in their districts,” Dix says. “It’s not likely to happen in very many cases, plain and simple.”
Dix and other legislative leaders spoke at an Iowa Chamber Alliance meeting Wednesday afternoon. The group is calling for an increase in the gas tax.