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Death Of Fuel Tax Hike Angers Batt

Gov. Phil Batt Wednesday blasted senators who killed House-passed legislation raising state fuel taxes and vehicle registration fees to pump millions of dollars into Idaho’s deteriorating highway system and said he would work to revive the bill.

The governor, who has pushed the legislation, said he had already spoken with one of the opposition senators, Boise Republican Cecil Ingram, and with Senate President Pro Tem Jerry Twiggs about the measure and expects to meet with others in an effort to get it back on track.

“I’ll do my best to have further discussion of it, but I’m not the Legislature,” Batt said.

He was especially perturbed by the opposition of Ingram, the Senate Agriculture Committee chairman who said flatly that his opposition was based on the Transportation Committee’s refusal to endorse legislation increasing load weights for grain trucks.

“It’s too bad to have this bill die because of it’s connection with another bill,” Batt said. “It appears to me the lobbyists are heavily involved. I believe the people of Idaho should be represented.”

But the other four responsible for the committee’s 5-4 vote against the bill on Tuesday voiced firm opposition to raising taxes. The bill would have boosted the fuel tax four cents to 25 cents a gallon and raised registration fees an average of just under $6 a vehicle.

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