Brian Ness, the director of the Idaho Transportation Department, stood before lawmakers Tuesday to warn them that the state's roads are in dire need of funding, just to keep up maintenance.
"$262 million is needed just to preserve the system in the condition it's in," Ness told the members of the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee. "I want to stress, the Governor's Office and ITD don't have a legislative proposal to address that this year but we agree it's time to start having the discussion."
This morning's Lewiston Tribune reports that members of the budget-writing committee pushed back against previously suggested proposals, such as an increased state gas tax or a bump in vehicle registration fees.
"I don't see my constituents saying they're willing to take that on," Nampa Republican Rep. Brent Crane told the Tribune.
A 2010 legislative task force analyzed a number of potential revenue sources when Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter first brought the plight of highway funding before lawmakers. Among the options were sales taxes on auto parts and accessories and a bump in the gas tax. Neither went anywhere.
But Ness reminded lawmakers Tuesday that the $262 million price tag for annual maintenance was just part of what he called underfunding.
"You may recall that the task force concluded that transportation in Idaho is underfunded by $543 million annually," said Ness.