Iowa legislators propose new fuel tax

OSAGE, Iowa - Now that funnel week is over Iowa lawmakers were able to dive a little deeper into some of the bills that made it through the cut.

The fuel tax proposal was one of the many bills that were on the table this week, except this was round two for the proposal and a new amendment was added on by Iowa Rep. Josh Byrnes, (R) Osage.

It’s a hit or miss issue, but Neil Herman, a St. Ansgar resident, is a believer in the idea that a couple extra dollars at the pump could go a long way on the road

“I think we will all benefit from good roads and improved bridges,” Herman said, “nobody wants a bridge collapse like the one that happen in Minneapolis some eight years ago, and then we just need to maintain and build new.”

However, building means buying, and buying means spending, which is why state Rep. Byrnes says he’s doing his best to come up with a viable solution.

Other lawmakers haven’t been as supportive with his plans as he would have liked since pump prices are on the rise again.

“It’s one of those things where, you’re raising a tax,” he said, “and people get nervous and they’re worried about reelections and that maybe it’ll get used against them in an election if they raise the tax or support a tax, but this one’s not just your typical tax, this is truly a user-friendly if you don’t drive you don’t pay it.”

The idea is that a five percent tax would be charged to the wholesaler, which means it would not be applied directly to the end price at the pump.

While no one ever likes to pay more for something, Byrnes believes that the end reward will definitely outweigh the costs.

“Right now, our estimates are $64 million per percentage point, and the nice thing about this is it may actually be more of a long-term solution to our road funding problems because in a way, it’s indexing itself on fuel prices.”

Seeing a long term solution is exactly what Herman thought of when he first heard of the proposed legislation, and for him, it’s something he believes should have happened a long time ago.

“I don’t think we can fund our infrastructure at the level the tax was established 25 years ago.”

With most bills in the House and Senate this early in the session, nothing has been voted on or passed with the bill.

However, it is being discussed and Rep. Byrnes is hopeful that it’s something they can accomplish during the 2014 session.

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