- Associated Press - Saturday, April 11, 2015

BOISE, Idaho (AP) - After two full days of negotiations by a special six-member joint panel over how to address Idaho’s transportation funding shortfall, the Idaho Legislature has approved a $95 million compromise between House members reluctant to raise taxes and Senators hesitant to spend general fund dollars.

The new plan - which still falls far short of the $262 million annual shortfall the state has faced for road maintenance since 2010 - was passed unanimously by the Legislature’s special joint conference committee late Friday afternoon.

The panel’s compromise bill will raise fuel taxes by 7 cents per gallon and increase registration fees by $21. But Democratic Sen. Roy Lacey from Pocatello wanted to raise more money.

“I’m a bit disappointed with what we’ve done,” he said. “I think that, once again, we’re kicking out problem down the road. It’s going to cost us and our children more.”

The bill passed both chambers early Saturday morning.



In addition to the $95 million estimate, the plan will also dedicate excess general-fund dollars to statewide roads projects for the next two years.

The plan will give 60 percent of the new money to statewide highway projects, while 40 percent would go to local districts.

Republican Sen. Dean Cameron from Rupert, who co-chairs Idaho’s powerful budget-writing committee, wanted more of the new revenue to go toward rural roads. “I think in spite that it is not what we need it to be, in spite that we have not fully resolved the issue, I think we are making a significant stride forward,” he said.

The plan will include non-binding language to start raising registration fees for trucks based on weight and distance traveled in the next three years.

A previous plan from the Senate to raise $127 million for roads was killed in the House earlier this week.

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