Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter was joined by legislative leaders from the Idaho House and Senate today (Friday, May 8) in applauding a $57 million compromise agreement and committing to a united path forward on addressing Idaho’s long-term transportation infrastructure needs.
“If an admittedly stop-gap measure can provide a level of certainty and predictability, this is it,” Governor Otter said. “Our work is just beginning, but this will enable us to meet our most immediate needs – including the interest payments on GARVEE – while planning how best to pay for the maintenance, repair and improvement projects that our $16 billion highway system so badly needs.”
The agreement provides $28 million a year in new revenue in the budget year that begins July 1 by increasing DMV administrative fees and removing the ethanol tax exemption. It provides another $29 million a year in additional new revenue beginning on July 1, 2010, by diverting the state fuel tax allocations now going to the Idaho State Police and the Department of Parks and Recreation.
“This was never about any particular way of generating the revenue we need to fulfill this proper role of government,” Governor Otter said. “This was about acknowledging the challenge and making a commitment now to meeting it. That’s been achieved.”
As part of the agreement announced today, the Legislature will establish a task force to determine by the 2010 legislative session whether the funding that now goes to the ISP and Parks and Recreation should be replaced with some other form of user fee.
At the same time, a task force made up of legislators and representatives appointed by the Governor will tackle the challenge of modernizing Idaho’s user-pay fee structure. It will study everything from fuel tax increases and registration fees to truck fees, targeted transportation-related sales taxes and other alternatives.
“I’m pleased that this agreement focuses on the need for continuing sources of revenue to meet our responsibilities, to help ensure the safety of our people and the vitality of our economy,” Governor Otter said. “This plan reflects the understanding that the people of Idaho need good roads, and that it is state government’s job to respond efficiently and effectively to that need.”