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Eye On Boise

Reaction mixed, mostly positive

Reaction to the governor’s transportation proposals from legislators is mixed, but mostly positive so far. “I’ve said all along that we need to focus at least on maintenance, so that we don’t fall farther behind,” said House Speaker Lawerence Denney. He joked, “With the volatility in the gas prices right now, if you didn’t report on it nobody’d notice that we’d raised it 10 cents a gallon.” But, he said, “With the down economy it’s going to be a tough sell.” He praised the governor for looking to user fees for funding. Senate President Pro-Tem Bob Geddes said, “I think the governor showed some tempering from what his position was last year. … I think the governor is ready to come up with a package that works for not only the Department of Transportation, but for the people that have to pay for it.” However, he said, “I don’t think the crisis was created because we have 6 percent too much administration. I think we could run a little leaner in administration.”

Senate Education Chairman John Goedde, R-Coeur d’Alene, said, “My ears went up when he said he was going to start tracking sales tax revenue from motor vehicle-related sales, because anything that could get deferred from general fund revenue to transportation would have a definite impact on education. I see education as the catalyst that, when our economy turns, will springboard us into the limelight. We have to have workers that are ready to take the jobs that are already there.” Senate Transportation Chairman John McGee, R-Caldwell, said, “I think it’s a good first step. The governor has now outlined what I think is a well-balanced approach to solving the problem. I like the part about accountability. If we’re going to ask for more money, then we have to make sure it’s spent right.”

House Assistant Minority Leader George Sayler, D-Coeur d’Alene, said the governor’s proposals are “kind of a consolidation of what’s been talked about the last year or two. I do agree that we need to increase the fuel tax – it was a mistake at the time probably not to adjust it” for inflation when it last was raised in 1996. Sayler said the accountability piece is important to gain legislative approval, but most of all, “We need to be adequately funded.” Fixing the transportation system, he said, “should help us get out of the hole a little sooner.”

Eye On Boise

News, happenings and more from the Idaho Legislature and the state capital.