Idaho Governor Butch Otter (R) signed into law on April 21 a bill to increase the state gas tax by 7 cents-per-gallon, raise vehicle registration fees, and institute a fee on electric and hybrid cars in order to generate new funding for the state’s roads and bridges. Additionally, a ‘surplus eliminator’ included in House Bill 312a would apportion half of any General Fund surplus for transportation in the next two fiscal years.
The bill, approved by the legislature April 10, is anticipated to raise almost $95 million per year— much less than the $262 million annual shortfall needed in order for the state to “operate, preserve and restore” the state and local transportation system.
In a transmittal letter sent to House Speaker Scott Bedke, Otter stated, “It [House Bill 312] represents compromise, concession and a realization that—in the face of apparent intransigence—something indeed is better than nothing. In fact, H 312 is a respectable start on a multi-year effort to provide for the long-term needs of our transportation infrastructure, including hundreds of bridges throughout Idaho that every day are reaching the end of their safe lifespans.”
By approving this bill, Idaho has become the fourth state—joining Iowa, South Dakota and Utah—in 2015 to sign a gas tax increase into law in order to fund the state’s transportation needs. In addition, Georgia’s legislature has also approved a state gas tax increase, which is awaiting approval from Governor Nathan Deal (R) before going into effect. Several states are also pushing to pass transportation funding measures before wrapping up their 2015 legislative sessions.