Rep. John Vander Woude, R-Nampa, moved to approve the compromises the committee has been discussing, including a 7-cent gas tax increase, $28 million in increased registration fees on cars, light trucks and motorcycles and new fees on electric and hybrid vehicles; a $25 flat increase on heavy trucks to raise $3.7 million; and a surplus eliminator with a two-year sunset, with the money split 50-50 between ITD and the Budget Stabilization Fund. Sen. Dean Cameron, R-Rupert, seconded the motion.
Eric Milstead, legislative services director, said according to legislative rules, “312 is lost, but the conference committee has agreed to a new bill that staff will draft.” That’s the version described above; it raises roughly $95 million, not counting the surplus eliminator, which is depending on how state revenues come in.
Sen. Dean Cameron said, “I can focus on the disappointment that safety issues for the locals are not going to be addressed. I can focus on the fact that we’re not making a big enough dent.” But, he said, “I think we are making a significant stride forward in addressing the transportation issues. … $95 million is not enough money, but it’s a lot of money.” Plus, the surplus eliminator could add some to that in the next two years, he said. “I’m going to focus on the fact that we didn’t walk away from the table,” and have “done something. … I would caution us that we will have to address it again. In two years you’ll have to decide whether to keep the sunset up on the surplus eliminator. You’ll have to decide how to help address issues with the locals.”
Sen. Bert Brackett, R-Rogerson, said, “We still have work to do, but this does give us a path forward.”
The panel hasn’t voted yet; they’ve briefly gone at ease as they examine the details and make sure they’re correct.