Gov. Butch Otter's task force on how Idaho can fund updates to highways met Thursday to discuss options to find more revenue for state roads.
The task force, led by Lt. Gov. Brad Little, discussed several way to generate cash, including upping fuel taxes and car registration fees. Members of the task force also discussed looking into the Vehicle Mileage Tax (VMT), a fee charged based on the number of miles driven over a certain period of time. The VMT got a cool reception from legislators on the committee.
State Rep. Marv Hagedorn, R-Meridian, said that the fuel tax, which is a dwindling source of income for the state as more high-mileage cars hit the road, is not a long-term solution to the state's road funding woes. He also said that task force members are looking into potential savings within the existing structure of government to avoid large fee or tax increases.
Rep. JoAn Wood, R-Rigby, head of the House Transportation and Defense Committee, told IdahoReporter.com that the Legislature should look at shifting sales taxes paid on autos and auto-related items from the general fund into a dedicated fund for road maintenance and improvements.
Wood also said that lawmakers should reject the VMT because it has a "big brother" appearance and the state, which would have to install GPS tracking devices in every car in Idaho, would not recover the costs under that type of plan.
Sen. John McGee, R-Caldwell, chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, said that the process includes many difficult decisions, but that lawmakers are seeking funding sources that are fair and equitable.
The task force has until December to examine funding solutions and report its recommendations to the governor.
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