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Poll Finds Idahoans Would Consider Higher Taxes If It Means Better Roads

Jessica Robinson
Northwest News Network

A new poll finds Idahoans might not be so tax-averse when it comes to funding improvements to the state's roads and bridges. About 54 percent say the economic benefit is a compelling reason to increase revenue for transportation infrastructure.

The results of a telephone survey of likely voters were released Tuesday by the University of Idaho.

Priscilla Salant led the project. She said she was surprised to see high levels of trust in government on this issue.

“That suggests to me that the public is ready for our legislators to take on this discussion, this policy discussion about funding roads and bridges," Sulant said. "And they trust, they trust the government to do a good job.”

Salant says the funding model for roads projects hasn’t changed in Idaho since the ‘90s, even though there are more cars on the road and fuel efficiency has cut into gas tax revenue. About 35 percent of Idaho likely voters said they could support raising the gas tax.

This poll comes at a time when Congress is at a standoff over how to replenish the Highway Trust Fund.

The Idaho poll found that the methods of raising revenue most favored by likely voters were not necessarily those that would generate the most money -- for example, directing a tax on auto parts to roads and bridges was the most popular. Only about 20 percent expressed support for a property tax hike.

Still, a little over half of Idaho voters think roads and bridges should be a top priority for the legislature. Most say the infrastructure may be adequate now, but don't think it will be in 10 years.

In the last legislative session, the Idaho Trucking Association proposed raising the gas tax by 6 cents a gallon to pay for the backlog of road and bridge projects in the state. But that proposal didn't go anywhere.