Raising fuel taxes in Iowa needs to be high on the agenda for the Legislature in January, and the governor says that’s a possibility.

We’ve supported such an increase in recent months to improve roads and bridges — some of them dangerous — and improve our transportation system overall, a key economic development tool. As another benefit, such projects would also increase jobs.

But whether it was because it’s an election year or legislators had too many other things on their agenda, the gas tax fell by the roadside.

However, the issue still has some wheels. Gov. Terry Branstad, visiting western Iowa last week, said he sees support by legislators for raising the tax between 8 and 10 cents over the next three years.

It’s about time. The tax hasn’t changed since 1989, and although there’s considerable road work done each year, some things are falling behind — luckily, not apart.

Problems with bridges in the Quad Cities have been well-documented. In Monona County, where Branstad was speaking last week, County Engineer David Carney said they’ve had difficulty repairing 120 bridges because of lack of funding. Some road projects were shelved altogether.

We’re certain those kinds of stories could be repeated across the state.

We’re also certain an increase in fuel taxes would help ease those concerns. In fact, a citizen’s panel had recommended an increase to legislators in the last session but that proposal failed.

It’s not that we’re anxious to increase taxes. But fuel taxes are a type of user fee and those who use our roads and cause the wear and tear should help pay to maintain them.

Plus, there’s another part of Branstad’s equation that would indirectly help ease the pain at the pumps for Iowans. The governor said he believes legislators would support fuel tax hikes if they were linked to decreases in property and income taxes.

We’re not sure how the Legislature will cut those taxes. Time and again they’ve stalled on doing so.

But regardless, come January, lawmakers — with the elections well in the rear-view mirror — should get with the governor to craft a plan to pump more money into the highway fund.

Better, newer roads and bridges are essential to the state’s well-being — both fiscally and for the safety of those using them.

(9) comments

Roadster

What? A Republican governor is proposing raising taxes and not a single protest form the tea party? I thought you folks were against all tax increases no matter who proposed them. Where is the outrage? Show your true spirit and shout it out. "No new taxes."

JB Johnson of Britt
JB Johnson of Britt

i have been

Mugsy

Would hope to see more of the tax money going to fixing roads than funding employee raises and retirement benefits plans for workers.

libertylover

I agree there should be no new taxes. When you look at the waste and corruption, it's a no-brainer that there should be no new taxes. The people who earn the money should be allowed to keep it. They will not waste it. They will use it for their needs and they will not waste it.

RJ

No gas tax increase! The state has enough money it is a matter of priorities. Also the counties need to look at closing some roads and not replacing every bridge that only gets driven on a few times a year. Plus they need to start making farmers pay some gas tax or sales tax on equipment and put that in the road fund. One honey wagon will do more damage to a road in a year than my car will do in 10 years.

LGBTAlly
LGBTAlly

Roadster, you made a valid point. Very little if any Tea Party outrage has been expressed to, or about, the Governor's proposal. You'd think that our trucker friends would at least write letters to the editor. JB's three words "I have been" don't seem to be much of a protest.

JB Johnson of Britt
JB Johnson of Britt

Would you like copies of the letters I sent to Rayhon, Upmeyer and TEB? A hand writen letter to them direct carries a lot more weight than a letter to editor. Maybe you like to come along to Hancock GOP meeting where I rip the GOP for this idea?

LGBTAlly
LGBTAlly

JB, you haven't been writing letters to the GG on the subject, have you? That's what you would want to do in order to get people motivated and gather support.

JB Johnson of Britt
JB Johnson of Britt

globe has a limit of letters of once every 3 weeks and I plan on going to Hancock GOP party funtion and bring this up face to face. I also have a little trick in mind to bring pressure on local lawmakers

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