Eye On Boise

The debate is on...

Rep. Frank Henderson, R-Post Falls, debates in favor of HB 246, the governor's bill to raise the gas tax to fund more road work. The bill failed in the House on Thursday on a 27-43 vote. (Betsy Russell / The Spokesman-Review)
Rep. Frank Henderson, R-Post Falls, debates in favor of HB 246, the governor's bill to raise the gas tax to fund more road work. The bill failed in the House on Thursday on a 27-43 vote. (Betsy Russell / The Spokesman-Review)

The first six representatives to speak in the debate on the gas tax bill after the opening debate were two in favor, four against. Rep. Frank Henderson, R-Post Falls, spoke out in favor, citing Gov. Butch Otter's executive order promising stricter accountability measures for transportation spending. "I could not have read something more responsive to the problem than this executive order," he told the House. Reps. John Rusche, D-Lewiston, Marv Hagedorn, R-Meridian, Grant Burgoyne, D-Boise, and James Ruchti, D-Pocatello, then all spoke against the bill, followed by Rep. Max Black, who spoke in favor.

"It's not the right time," Rusche declared. Said Hagedorn, "I believe this is a Band-Aid and I don't think it's going to solve our problem." Burgoyne said the amount the gas tax hike would raise - about $61 million by the third year - is close to the amount of cuts being talked about for public schools next year, $62 million or more. "I ask whether we are raising the right tax to fund the right things, and whether we have the right priorities," he said. Ruchti said, "Many of us now know family members or friends or constituents who are being affected by this economy. If you want to talk about unfair, it's losing your job after 15 years. ... Is this the right time to raise taxes on Idaho families?" Black, R-Boise, said, "I don't know that there's a right time to raise taxes ... but it's the right time to fix our roads. ... You'll be spending the money, whether you do it in a tax, or realignment and new tires."




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