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Iowa Farm Bureau gives nod to gas tax hike

The Iowa Farm Bureau Federation has endorsed the recommendation of a state commission to raise the tax on gasoline by up to 10 cents per gallon.

In the endorsement statement, IFBF President Craig Lang (also recently elevated as an Iowa Regent at the request of Gov. Terry Branstad) said that an increase “is the fairest way to fund” road repairs “because it charges people who actually use the roads whether they live in Iowa or are from out-of-state.”

Here’s the statement:

With rural roads making up nearly 90,000 miles of the state’s 114,000-mile road system, the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF) applauds the Governor’s Transportation 2020 Citizen Advisory Commission recommendation for an additional 8 to 10 cents per gallon fuel tax.

“Our roads and bridges have been severely impacted over the years by flooding and neglect, negatively impacting all of Iowa, but especially our rural communities, businesses and farms. Our members believe it’s imperative to repair the roads and bridges to help rural Iowa thrive,” said Craig Lang, IFBF president. “We believe that an increase in the fuel tax is the fairest way to fund those repairs because it charges people who actually use the roads whether they live in Iowa or are from out of state.”

Lang notes that IFBF delegates in 2008 passed policy calling for the fuel tax increase to repair the state’s roads and bridges.

The tax increase recommendation was made to the Iowa Department of Transportation (IDOT) this week after several listening sessions around the state. The recommendations will be submitted to the Iowa Legislature by the IDOT by the end of the year. The IDOT reports that Iowa needs an additional $215 million per year to meet critical roadway needs and the recommended increase will generate $184 million to $230 million per year.

The Advisory Commission was established by Branstad last spring and held a series of seven public input meetings during August and September. Iowa Code requires a complete review by the Iowa Department of Transportation of the current revenue levels of Iowa’s road use tax fund and to determine if the revenues will meet the construction and maintenance needs of Iowa’s roads every five years. The appointed commission members were to provide input into final recommendation and to collaborate on public education.

While the 12-member Commission notes the hike may be troublesome for Iowa families already mired in an economic downturn, they believe the estimated $280 million could be put to good use for Iowa roads and bridges.

The gas tax in Iowa has been stagnant since 1989 at 22 cents per gallon. One cent of the tax goes to underground storage tank clean up and the remainder is used for road work.

The Commission is also recommending an increase in new vehicle registration fees from 5 to 6 percent of the purchase price.

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