Gas Tax Increase Moves Forward in Iowa Legislature

In the Iowa Quad Cities, gas has gone up an average of 36-cents a gallon over the past month. Under a new bill, though, it could go up even more.

The Iowa Senate is pushing for a 10-cent per gallon hike in the state’s gas tax. The bill passed through the Iowa Senate’s Ways and Means Sub-Committee Wednesday, March 7th.

The proposal would boost the gas tax by 5-cents in January 2013 and then another 5-cents in January 2014.

Lawmakers estimate the increase would raise an additional $220 million a year for the Iowa Department of Transportation, which would use the money to repair the state’s roads and bridges.

Iowa has not raised its gas tax since 1989 and supporters of the bill say Iowa’s infrastructure is suffering because of it.

“It’s important that we consider our options,” says State Senator Matt McCoy. “We have an obligation to protect the motoring public and to make sure our bridges are in good working condition.”

Opponents say IDOT already has plenty of money and instead of relying on drivers, the department should re-prioritize its budget.

“The Department of Transportation has $1.2 billion in their budget so they can find ways for when there are issues,” says Lindsay McQuarry with Iowans for Tax Relief. “They can find that out of their own budget. I don’t think that $220 million is going to do the magic fix for them when they have such a large budget.”

The bill now heads to the entire Ways and Means Committee. If it’s approved there, it will go to the full Senate for a vote.