From AAA of Oregon/Idaho
A telephone survey of 400 Idaho voters in 41 Idaho counties reveals that 87 percent favor a law that would give the Idaho attorney general's office the authority to investigate wholesale gasoline prices during a declared emergency. In addition, 84 percent of the respondents favor a law that would define gasoline price gouging and give the state Attorney General's office authority to prosecute it.
"Last year's record gasoline prices no doubt piqued the attention of Idahoans," said AAA Idaho Division President Jim Manion. He said Idaho's prices have been higher than the national average price for the past four months, by as much as 40 cents a gallon during September. "Idahoans want some protections built into our laws to guard against unreasonable price increases that cannot be explained by market forces."
AAA Idaho supported legislation last session that would have given the Idaho attorney general's office the authority to investigate wholesale prices, but the bill was held in committee on the objection of several major business lobbies.
AAA's survey, which was conducted by Moore Information, an Oregon polling company, shows Idahoans are less than enthusiastic about several ideas to raise revenues for the state's crumbling roads and bridges. Nearly three of four respondents (74 percent) oppose raising the state gas taxes to address the projected funding shortfalls for Idaho's transportation infrastructure during the next thirty years. The state's last gas tax increase authorized by the legislature was in 1996.
Indexing fuel taxes and auto registrations to inflation did not draw as much opposition. Still, fifty-six (56) percent oppose indexing, while just 34 percent endorse it. AAA's survey posed three options based on recommendations from the Forum on Transportation Investments, a 17-month Idaho Transportation Department study. The options were drawn from more than a dozen Forum recommendations to deal with an expected annual shortfall of $200 million during the next thirty years.
"As Forum participants, we were trying to determine how much support Idahoans have for these ideas," said AAA Idaho Director of Public and Government Affairs Dave Carlson. "Obviously much work must be done to get Idahoans and their legislators on board with the Forum's recommendations."
On a related issue, the survey showed there is support (73 percent favor, 17 percent oppose) to local option authority that would allow voters to decide how to pay for public transportation in their communities. That, too, was a recommendation from the Forum study.
However, only 49 percent of respondents said they would be willing to pay an additional half cent sales tax to pay for vanpools, city buses, senior center vans or light rail in their communities, another of the recommendations included in the Forum's final report.
Currently, there is no local option authority to do so. Legislation would be required to give such authority to voters.