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GOP Plan To Fund Idaho Roads Would Raise Gas Tax 5 Cents

Kristen Steele
A Republican-led plan in the Idaho legislature would immediately hike the state fuels tax by 5 cents.

A group of Republican lawmakers in Idaho is offering a plan they say could raise up to $81 million for road and bridge repairs by next year.

The plan would immediately hike the state fuels tax by 5 cents. It also adds fees for electric and hybrid vehicles.

Republican state Rep. Greg Chaney said he knows Idaho lawmakers won’t accept a tax hike lightly.

“Anything that we pass here as a revenue generator is going to hit ultimately consumer families,” he said. “That’s just where -- you know, certain things roll down hill and that’s one of them, taxation. The bottom line is this helps spread out where we’re asking for this.”

The bill includes a mechanism that would gradually roll back the 5-cent increase as the state’s transportation fund rises.

Idaho lawmakers are running out of time to agree on a way to fund highway maintenance this year. State transportation officials say the they need an extra $262 million a year just to keep roads in their current condition. This proposal would generate roughly a third of that.

The bill would also create a formula to divert money from Idaho’s general fund during periods of economic growth.

It received a mixed reception from the House Transportation Committee. Some lawmakers worried that a provision to set the fuels transfer fee at 3 cents per gallon would be passed onto consumers. Others said using general fund money would divert funding from education.