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Idaho GOP to Gov. Otter: It's time to go home

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A statement issued by GOP House leadership suggesting it's time to "wrap up" the second longest legislative session in Idaho's history

 

Rep. Lawerence Denney, R-Midvale, Speaker of the Idaho House

Rep. Mike Moyle, R-Star, House Majority Leader

Rep. Scott Bedke, R-Twin Falls, Assistant Majority Leader

Rep. Ken Roberts, R-Donnelly, Majority Caucus Chairman issued this statement Friday afternoon:

 

It’s time for the Legislature to wrap up its business and go home.

 

As House leaders, we recognize there may be a day and time that we need to consider raising the fuel tax to supply more revenue for our roads and bridges. But this is not the day or time to raise them, considering the record amount of financing available for highways in Idaho. The votes for a fuel tax increase have not been there after multiple tries in the House and we don’t see many colleagues changing their minds.

 

Governor Otter has made a strong statement and we respect his convictions. But we also think the good Governor should respect the thoughts and convictions of the majority of House members. The overwhelming consensus is that House members strongly believe that raising fuel taxes is the wrong thing to do during an economic recession. We have supported removing the ethanol exemption fees and will consider a modest increase in administrative fees.

 

So let’s not make this a test of political wills. This is a citizens legislature and people in this body have jobs, families and personal lives beyond serving. We have been in session for more than 100 days, the second longest in Idaho’s history, and the people want us to go home. But make no mistake, legislators are willing to stay as long as necessary to complete the people’s work.

 

In recent days, the media has focused on the conflict between the Governor and House. But in terms of substance, our thinking is very much in line with the Governor’s. We will need to take action in the near future to continue to fund one of the state’s greatest assets — its roads.

 

The state and local road departments have available more than $1.1 billion —yes, BILLION - during a time when the Legislature has been forced to cut back on many other programs and services that are important to Idahoans. We agree with the Governor that quality roads contribute to the public’s safety, quality of life and economic well being of our state.

 

For Fiscal Year 2010 (which begins July 1), state and local road departments will receive, or already have available:

• $508 million agency appropriation (up from $497 million from FY 2009), which was approved by the House.

• $297 million in unspent money from the Connecting idaho fund.

• $191 million in federal “stimulus” money.

• $82 million additional bonding authority for Grant Anticipation Revenue Vehicle (GARVEE), which was approved by the House.

• $36 million in GARVEE cost savings.

• $29 million in unsold bonding authority for GARVEE.

• $18 million in funding with the elimination of the ethanol gas exemption, which was approved by the House.

• $17 million of discretionary stimulus funding, providing road funding for local communities.

 

Idahoans will see a record number of highway projects this year and next year to address road maintenance and preservation needs, bridge repair and replacement, and interstate congestion. The department has in excess of $300 million more than last year to address the state’s transportation needs as outlined by the Governor.

 

By any standard, this was a remarkable year for transportation funding. We look forward to working with the Governor to solve long-term solutions to transportation.

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