After much debate, the first amendment to change the amount of the gas tax bill - from 2 cents next year to 5 cents - has been defeated. Rep. Leon Smith, R-Twin Falls, who sponsored the amendment, said it would raise $26.4 million annually for state roads, and $17.6 million for local roads, while costing the average Idaho driver about $2.50 a month. “That’s an ice cream cone if you only have a single dip,” he said. “Vote for the 5 cents so we have a meaningful bill that can do some good if it does pass.” Rep. Bob Nonini, R-Coeur d’Alene, spoke out against the bill, particularly decrying the idea that people wouldn’t notice another nickel a gallon. “That’s a heck of a reason to support a tax increase, because we think we can fool our constituents and they won’t notice it,” he said. “I’m tired of throwing good money after bad. The ITD needs to get its house in order.” Nonini said he doesn’t think Idaho’s roads are that bad. Rep. Frank Henderson, R-Post Falls, said the governor’s recent executive order ensures accountability from ITD. “I believe those new funds will be well spent,” he said. But Nonini said the order was merely a “sales technique” from the governor to get the bill passed, and “not worth the piece of paper it was printed on.”
Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.
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