Another week has passed in the Iowa Legislature and Iowans have yet to see the much-anticipated 10-cents motor fuel tax increase bill. The lack of transparency on this huge 45.5% regressive tax increase and on transportation funding in general is very concerning to Iowans for Tax Relief. What do proponents of a gas tax increase have to hide? Why does the bill need to be moved quickly, early in the session, instead of allowing Legislators time to consider alternative funding solutions before they raise taxes? Why haven’t there been discussions in the House and Senate Transportation Committees on other ways to improve Iowa’s roads and bridges?
Just in the first few weeks of this session several bills have been drafted and introduced that would provide more funding for Iowa’s roads and bridges. House Joint Resolution 5, for example, would take one-half of one percent of state sales tax revenue and devote those dollars purely to transportation funding. It has 21 Representative co-sponsors. Several bills, including House File 145 and Senate File 41, would take a specific amount or percentage from the state general fund each year for Iowa’s roads and bridges.
This is just a sample of the alternatives that have been proposed. Iowans for Tax Relief also urges cutting all less-essential spending of Iowa road funds and changing that obsolete Road Use Tax Fund distribution formula. Why is it that alternative solutions that would not raise taxes can’t even be discussed or debated?
Iowans for Tax Relief believes many Legislators have forgotten that they answer to the taxpayers, not special interests that will get big money if the gas tax is raised! Some alternatives would require prioritizing needs and spending cuts in other areas, but that’s why Iowans elected Legislators, to make tough calls. Legislators owe it to the taxpayers to consider all options before they impose a 45% tax increase on Iowans.
No matter what policy is or isn’t enacted for transportation funding this session, it will not change our resolve! Iowa taxpayers need to see more accountability for how their tax dollars are spent on transportation infrastructure. There needs to be a better system for prioritizing road projects and bridges. The Road Use Tax Fund formula must be changed to allow counties to receive the fair share of funding they need to fix and maintain rural roads and bridges. The state needs to work with the new Congress to cut strings that waste federal gas tax dollars on unnecessary mandates, earmarks, and diversions. ITR will work to ensure that these accountability measures are put in place so that Iowans can know their tax dollars are used wisely!
In a professional, scientific, statewide poll last month, 77.7% of Iowans opposed a 10-cents gas tax increase. 66.3% of Iowans agreed with this statement: “Iowa state government has enough money to fix and maintain roads and bridges, and we need smarter spending and better priority-setting instead of raising taxes.”