Idaho bills would boost transportation revenue
January 20, 2020
In the opening days of the regular session in Idaho, two efforts to boost transportation funding are on the move at the statehouse.
The House Transportation Committee voted this week to advance a bill to create a source of funding for state and local roads.
Sponsored by Transportation Chairman Joe Palmer, R-Meridian, the bill would divert more than one-quarter billion dollars from the state’s “rainy day” fund to a new account accessible for transportation purposes. Specifically, H309 would shift $272 million from the state’s budget stabilization fund to the new economic reserve and investment fund.
Advocates say the shift to the new account would allow the state to collect a higher investment rate.
If we invest that money and earn interest, it will make it grow that much faster,” Palmer testified. “I just think it’s a wise thing to do.”
A portion of the money, $38.2 million, initially would be routed to an account where funds can be applied for state and local road work.
Of that amount, the Idaho Transportation Department would receive 60% of the funds. The other 40% would be applied to local roads.
Each year thereafter, the state would continue to send 5% of the economic reserve revenue for road projects.
H309 was unanimously approved by the committee. The vote clears the way for the bill to move to the full House.
Sales tax revenue for roads
A second bill introduced in the House Transportation Committee would increase the amount of sales tax allotted to transportation.
Idaho now sends about 1% of the state’s sales tax to the highway account. According to a fiscal note attached to the bill, the account received $18 million a year ago.
The account collects revenue from sources that include transportation-related purchases such as vehicle sales, tires and vehicle parts.
Sponsored by Rep. Palmer, H325 would double the amount sent to transportation to 2%, or about $36 million annually.
“I think it is very appropriate we use some of that money to take care of our roads.”
The bill awaits further consideration in the committee.
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