On Monday, Keith Allred, Democratic candidate for governor, released a plan calling for a 3-cent reduction in the gas tax most motorists pay to be complemented with an increase in the fees heavy trucks pay. His electoral foe, Gov. Butch Otter, joined with Lt. Gov. Brad Little, head of a task force looking for solutions for future road funding for the state, to deride Allred and his proposal. The two men, in a prepared statement released Tuesday, said neither Allred, nor his proposal, are credible.
"I can understand wanting to have the perfect solution in a campaign cycle, but the bottom line is the task force has not completed its work, we need to respect its bi-partisan process," said Otter. "Leadership requires we deal with reality rather than theory. There are many factors to consider, but once again my Democrat opponent chooses to posture and ignore reality--his plan simply shows a lack of leadership and credibility."
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 that 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 puts on Idaho roads with how much each group pays in for road maintenance. Allred believes his plan will bring the two groups of drivers to equal levels tax-wise.
Little accused Allred of veiling a tax increase. “Talking about a tax cut when what he's really proposing is hiding a tax increase from consumers might be good politics, but it's very bad public policy," said Little. "This idea shows that Mr. Allred is not credible, out of touch with the marketplace and the realities of Idaho's transportation needs -- even our immediate needs and realistic options, much less addressing a long-term solution.”
The task force, when it concluded its work last 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.
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