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Highway bonding for $134 million clears JFAC

Gov. Butch Otter’s proposal for $134 million in additional bonding next year for the GARVEE highway bonding program won strong support in the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee this morning, passing on an 18-1 vote with only Rep. Janice McGeachin, R-Idaho Falls, dissenting. Several committee members said it was difficult to vote for the bonding because the next set of projects is in the Treasure Valley. Rep. Shirley Ringo, D-Moscow, noted that a Moscow-area project was on the bonding list, but never funded. She said, “To prove my statewide perspective, I’m still going to vote for the motion. But I want you to know how irritated I am.” Rep. Darrell Bolz, R-Caldwell, said, “We all have our little districts that we represent, but on the other hand, we are state representatives – we represent all of the state of Idaho.”

Rep. Frank Henderson, R-Post Falls, noted that work on North Idaho projects funded through the “Connecting Idaho” bonding program last year still will continue. “That money’s there and we’ll keep moving forward with the work,” he said. Henderson noted that traffic counts have risen sharply between Coeur d’Alene and Sandpoint in the last decade – 21 percent – but that in the same time period, they’ve risen 54 percent in the Treasure Valley. “You’ve got to respond to need,” he said. “We’re doing everything we can up north. Our judgment is you’ve got to do it down here.”

Gov. Butch Otter said, "I am VERY pleased with JFAC's action this morning and its strong show of support for GARVEE. This is an important tool in helping meet Idaho's transportation infrastructure needs and we are very pleased with this morning's actions. This is a positive step forward on transportation." In a statement, his office added, "The governor is very grateful for the leadership that the Legislature has shown on this issue this morning."

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Eye On Boise

News, happenings and more from the Idaho Legislature and the state capital.