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Eye On Boise

Gas tax hike top choice of task force members

The governor’s transportation task force, after its last meeting, asked all 14 of its members to rank the various potential funding sources for transportation in Idaho on everything from fairness to public acceptance, and the results show a fuel tax increase came out on top. With a 1 cent per gallon fuel tax increase, Idaho could raise $8.2 million a year for roads. The second and third top choices both were variations on a gas tax increase: ranking second was a sales tax on the fuel wholesale price, which would raise $22.5 million a year; and third was indexing the current gas tax, which is 25 cents per gallon, to inflation. If that had been done in 1996 and tied to the Consumer Price Index, Idaho would be raising $73.8 million more a year, and the tax would be up to 34 cents per gallon.

Ranking fourth for the task force was a new excise tax on rental car fees, to raise about $1 million a year; and ranking fifth was a three-tiered increase in vehicle registration fees, closely followed by a tiered increase in fees on heavy trucks; each would raise about $5 million a year. Ranking seventh was indexing passenger vehicle registration fees to inflation; and eighth was local-option registration fees. The top 10 proposals were rounded out by a weight-distance tax on trucks, which could raise $60 million annually; and a permit system for electric vehicles. Things like toll roads, high-occupancy toll lanes and congestion pricing weren’t ranked highly by the panel. Lt. Gov. Brad Little, the chairman, said, “From a practical standpoint as far as generating revenue in the near future, I think it’s the collective wisdom of this task force that we not spend a lot of time on ‘em. … These are revenue sources whose time has not come yet.”

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Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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