A tentative agreement has emerged on transportation funding, and the Senate Transportation Committee will meet momentarily. There are three bills on its agenda: HB 226, Rep. Marv Hagedorn’s bill regarding truck license plates; HB 334, the DMV fee bill; and HB 338, the ethanol bill. The plan is to pass those bills this year, plus Sen. Tim Corder’s bill to cap temporary truck registration permits, which raises about $1 million a year; plus shift funding for both ISP and the state Department of Parks and Recreation off the highway distribution fund a year later, in fiscal year 2011. A task force, appointed by the House and Senate, would be required to come up with a funding plan for that $20 million shift before the start of next year’s legislative session; otherwise, the shift would come from the state’s general fund. “The House is visiting with their caucus, and I think it’s a solution that the Senate can buy off on also,” said Senate Finance Chairman Dean Cameron, R-Rupert. “We’re nervous about the potential impact on the general fund, and we’re nervous aout pushing off some difficult decisions. At the same time, we’re all frustrated and cantankerous. This will allow us to get out of here, and maybe think more clearly about a permanent solution for state police.”
One other provision of the tentative deal: The new money from all the bills and shifts, roughly $50 million, would be directed to GARVEE bond interest payments, freeing up the same amount in transportation maintenance money to be spent by ITD. That means the money wouldn’t go through the usual formula that would otherwise divert more than a third of it to local highway districts, cities and counties.