Gov. Dirk Kempthorne signed a bill April 14, authorizing the sale of the state’s first GARVEE (Grant Anticipation Revenue Vehicle) bonds for transportation projects.
In what probably was his last public bill signing before trading his position for that of Secretary of the Interior, Kempthorne talked about the contentious battle to get the bonding bill through the Legislature. When he signed the Connecting Idaho legislation during a series of statewide events in 2005, Kempthorne figured the toughest part of the bonding discussion had passed.
He may have been premature in his assessment.
Two legislators who played major roles in shepherding this year’s bonding bill through the House and Senate, spoke briefly at the signing ceremony. Sen. John McGee and Rep. Kathy Skippen thanked the governor for his leadership and his persistence in promoting the Connecting Idaho program.
Surrounded by children from a charter school and a private school who unintentionally got a lesson on civics in the process, and with the massive Karcher Road Interchange at Interstate 84 as a backdrop, Kempthorne thanked the many supporters who shared his vision of a “connected Idaho.”
Kempthorne said he longs for the day when people refer to regions as “northern” and “southern” Idaho rather than North Idaho and South Idaho. Connecting the communities in all regions of the state will bring people closer together, stimulate the economy and save lives, the governor said.
“It’s quite fitting that one of the final pieces of legislation I sign will be something I care so deeply about and for which I fought so hard,” the governor said.
“This historic legislation will save lives, spur commerce and put Idahoans to work. It addresses some of the most critical areas among the billions of dollars in backlogged road needs in Idaho and envisions a vibrant, bustling economy from the Panhandle to the upper Snake River.
“It is fitting that in the same year that we celebrate the 50th anniversary of America’s Interstate system, and President Eisenhower’s vision for creating it, we also celebrate a new initiative putting Idahoans on better, safer, more efficient roads and highways.”
House Bill 8554, which provides the first round of grant funding for Kempthorne’s $1.2 billion program, represents six major projects:
The bond financing team for Connecting Idaho, which is being led by Citigroup, has been assembled and is ready to begin selling bonds in early to mid-May, Kempthorne said. The program manager, which consists of a team of employees from Washington Group International and CH2M HILL, also has been selected.