‘Users fee’ hike may be on legislative agenda in 2014

There may be an effort to increase Iowa’s gasoline tax during what might otherwise be a relatively uneventful 2014 legislative session, a pair of Fort Dodge lawmakers said Saturday morning.

”All the preliminary indicators are that this is going to be a low key session,” state Rep. Helen Miller, a Democrat, said during an Eggs and Issues forum.

However, she said a gasoline tax proposal may come before the House Transportation Committee.

State Sen. Daryl Beall, a Democrat, said he also believes a gasoline tax hike may be on the agenda.

”I see that as a users fee rather than a tax,” he said.

The state tax on a gallon of gasoline is now 22 cents. It has remained unchanged since 1989.

In the past, Beall and Miller have generally been in favor of increasing that tax.

Beall has said such an increase will be necessary to complete U.S. Highway 20 as a four-lane route all across the state. He said Saturday morning that Iowa will have no money for new highway construction by 2015 without some kind of additional revenue. He added that he thinks using sales tax revenue or borrowing money are bad ways to pay for highways.

In response to a question from the audience, Beall and Miller said that using surplus money from the state budget would also be a poor idea because there would be no guarantee of that money being available from year to year.

About 45 people attended the forum, held at the East Campus of Iowa Central Community College. Eggs and Issues is sponsored by the college and the Greater Fort Dodge Growth Alliance.