Lewiston Morning Tribune
BOISE A new survey finds strong support for a penny
increase in the state gasoline tax at a time when construction
and repair money is falling behind demands of the road.
But the poll conducted last month for the American Automobile
Association found no support for using any vehicle taxes for
non-road purposes or for raising license or registration fees
to finance public transportation.
There was also opposition to the experiment for heavier trucks
on southern Idaho highways but support for expanding the mandatory
car restraint law to children up to 6 years old and 60 pounds
in weight. It now applies only to those up to 4 years old
and 40 pounds.
"For voters, there's an apparent disconnect when it
comes to using vehicle taxes for non-road purposes,"
AAA Idaho President Jim Manion said. "Idaho's constitutional
requirement to use gas taxes and registration fees on our
roads makes sense to Idahoans because of the direct user-payer
The poll, released Friday, was conducted for AAA by Moore
Information of Portland. The company contacted 403 registered
voters in 40 of Idaho's 44 counties on Dec. 18, 19 and 20.
The margin of error is plus or minus 5 percentage points.
Sixty-three percent of those surveyed said they supported
a penny increase in the fuel tax, which would generate about
$9 million a year for use by state and local highway departments.
The fuel tax is currently 25 cents a gallon, last increased
in the mid-1990s, and state and local officials have spent
more than a year reviewing ways to begin eating into the backlog
of road projects the state has.
The poll found a close division on a two-cent increase
45 percent for and 52 percent against. But the opposition
rose to 59 percent when the proposed increase hit three cents.
There was no ambivalence when it came to using highway revenue
for other purposes. By better than two to one, those polled
objected to raising vehicle fees to finance public transportation
projects, and it was seven to one against using gas taxes
or vehicle fees for anything other than road maintenance and
While lawmakers last year approved a 10-year experiment for
heavier trucks on 600 miles of southern Idaho roads, the poll
found solid opposition to allowing trucks up to 129,000 pounds
on the highways.
Fifty-nine percent of those surveyed were against increasing
the maximum weight limit from the 105,000 pounds that is the
standard across the state while 28 percent favored it.