On the gas tax, on which the Senate is proposing a phased-in, 10-cent hike to Idaho’s 25 cent per gallon tax over the next four years, Rep. John Vander Woude, R-Nampa, said, “In my opinion, too many steps and too high a number.” Rep. Joe Palmer, R-Meridian, said, “The effect that it tends to have on people is a lot larger than what the number is.”
Sen. Roy Lacey, D-Pocatello, said, “I think the 10 cents is pretty reasonable. … I have not had anybody say that 10 cents was going to make them stop driving.” Palmer responded, “I agree 10 cents is not going to make anyone stop driving, 50 cents is not going to make them stop driving. But it will make them stop buying other products, and that in turn is very hard on the economy.”
Sen. Dean Cameron, R-Rupert, said “I’m not an expert in this arena. I’m here more to protect the general fund, I’d offer that disclaimer.” But, he said, “There is an effect on our economy by our non-ability to maintain the infrastructure of the state. ... There is an effect on our economy when our products can’t get to market in a timely manner. And there’s an effect on our economy if we don’t pay for the maintenance now, and down the road, have to pay 2, 5 times, 7 times more for that same road.” He noted that Idaho hasn’t raised its gas tax since 1996. “And yet the cost for maintaining and rebuilding those roads has dramatically increased.”
Palmer said, “Sen. Cameron, I totally agree with everything that you’ve said. The fact is we have to get something” that will pass the House. “We’ve got to hold this down a little bit. All of you know how House members are when it comes to this. … Let’s keep discussing that, what it could be.”
Cameron said the Senate favors more gas tax and less in registration fee increases, as gas tax is the closes to a “true user fee,” reflecting how much people drive.
Sen. Bert Brackett, R-Rogerson, said, “Raising taxes is not easy and it shouldn’t be. So this deserves the thought and deliberation that’s gone into it. For today’s purposes, I’ll say we’ll set this one aside to come back to.”
Lacey said, “Maybe something we can think about as we move past this, maybe give it a 4 or 5 cent bump now, and starting next year, maybe raise it on a CPI, or another method to keep this up as a true user tax. That’s just something to keep in your minds.”