House Transportation Chairwoman JoAn Wood, R-Rigby, is calling for the state to use federal stimulus money to “buy back some of the GARVEE bonds, reduce some of the interest we pay,” and “put that into maintenance” in rural Idaho. Wood, giving her recommendations to JFAC for next year’s budget, said, “There is stimulus transportation money earmarked for … (metropolitan areas) and public transit that would be used by the large cities. … The reason I suggest this is that the backlog of maintenance and preservation is such a dire need … (and it’s) fallen so far behind in some of those rural areas. This is as urgent as congestion in the cities.” She added, “I believe … directing stimulus money this way is prudent.”
She is calling for approval for the Idaho Transportation Department to invest $6 million into new maintenance management and financial management systems, because “those technological tools are needed.” But as for GARVEE bonds, Wood said she doesn’t support issuing more at this point, focusing instead on buying some back with stimulus funds. “I really haven’t had an opportunity to talk to the governor about my ideas - you’re the first ones to hear them,” Wood told JFAC. “I hope that he’ll work with me.” Senate Finance Chairman Dean Cameron responded, “I’m sure he will, I’m sure he’ll want to hear those ideas.”
Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.
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