Idaho House OKs Using Sales Tax Money To Pay For Roads

Feb 4, 2020

Idaho House lawmakers signed off on a bill Monday that would dedicate more money from the state’s sales tax to pay for infrastructure projects.

The proposal from Rep. Joe Palmer (R-Meridian) would skim off another 1% from sales tax receipts to bankroll road and bridge projects. State law already diverts 1% of sales tax revenue towards transportation funding, with this bill adding about $18 million, if signed into law.

Rep. Gayann DeMordaunt (R-Eagle) said more needs to be done to help ease traffic in what is, once again, the fastest-growing state in the country.

“It is our obligation to be providing this very basic necessity of drivable roads, in part to support that economy and the continued growth of our economy,” DeMordaunt said.

But nearly every Democrat voted against the bill, including Rep. John Gannon (D-Boise). In debating against the bill, he said the state should levy impact fees on new development to help pay for transportation projects instead of taking cash out of the general fund.

“Impact fees could be a way of generating more revenue for that growth and helping,” Gannon said.

The Idaho Department of Transportation has a backlog of more than $400 million in maintenance and proposed projects. Last week during a budget hearing, ITD said more than half of the state's bridges will have been around longer than their intended lifespan by 2021.

Palmer’s bill passed 52-18 in the House and now heads to the Senate for consideration.

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