Thursday, April 9, 2009

Democrats nix fuel tax, seek end to tunnel vision

A majority of Idaho House Democrats voted today against a fuel-tax increase while pledging support for comprehensive transportation solutions and smart use of taxpayer dollars.

“Democrats have been saying since January that this is no time for the state to raise taxes on struggling Idaho families and businesses,” House Minority Leader John Rusche said after the vote. Fourteen of the 18 House Democrats voted against the measure, which was defeated on a narrow 32-37 vote.

“Democrats are not against transportation investment,” added Assistant House Minority Leader James Ruchti. “Idaho is increasing the Idaho Transportation Department’s budget and accepting millions in federal stimulus funds for transportation at the same time we are trimming state workers’ pay and making historic cuts to education. This tunnel vision doesn’t reflect our values as Idahoans.”

“The recent ITD audit showed that the agency isn’t using taxpayer funding as efficiently as it should. Beyond that, we see no effort on the part of the House Majority leadership to propose truly comprehensive transportation solutions that include local option authority for local communities,” Rusche said. “They also can’t recognize that fuel taxes will not solve our state’s future needs. Idaho remains stuck in the mid-20th century because of the House Majority’s refusal to wake up to reality. Democrats will continue to stand for comprehensive, 21st-century transportation solutions.”