Keith Allred, the Democratic gubernatorial nominee, met with members of the press at a Stinker gas station in Boise Monday to lay out his proposal to alter Idaho's road funding formula. Allred's plan, a 3-cent drop in the state gas tax, would represent a 12 percent reduction in the tax burden paid by everyday motorists. The cut, which would result in an approximate reduction in gas tax revenue of $19.2 million per year, would be complemented by a fee increase for heavy trucks.
Allred, likely empowered by findings released by Gov. Butch Otter's own transportation task force last week, said that a drop in the gas tax with a corresponding increase in fees paid by large trucks would make paying for road work more fair to Idaho families.
The transportation task force, which met last week in the Statehouse to determine the best way to fund the state's roads in the future, released a study by the Idaho Transportation Department which found that drivers of cars and light trucks are overpaying for roadwork by about 8 percent, while heavy trucks underpay by about 14 percent. The study compared how much wear and tear each group of drivers put on Idaho roads with how much each group pays in for road maintenance.
"Times are tough in Idaho and families need a break," Allred told reporters. "Idaho families cannot afford to subsidize the heavy trucking industry in times like these." Idahoans pay 25 cents per gallon to the state government and 18.5 cents to the federal governments. Allred's proposal wouldn't close the total gap in how much truckers should be paying for their wear and tear, but it would start down that path, the Eagle Democrat said. There is no fixed plan to raise the $19.2 million from truckers, Allred pointed out, but he said that once elected, he will work with trucking associations in the state to develop a fair way to do it.
Allred’s top campaign aide, Shea Anderson, stressed to reporters after his boss’s announcement that the plan would be “revenue neutral,” meaning that there would be no net increase in revenue for the state government.
The task force, when it concluded its work Tuesday, decided that a hike in the gas tax might be the most viable way to create additional revenue for Idaho's road in the future. The panel has not made that recommendation official up to this point, but could do so at its next meeting later this month. A proposal to increase the gas tax by one penny, a measure backed by Otter himself, was spiked by members of the Idaho Legislature in 2009.