Iowa’s Gov. Branstad Eyes Road Fund, Says Gas Price Drop Helps Revenue Planners

AASHTO Journal, 14 November 2014

Iowa Governor Terry Branstad.

Days after his reelection to a sixth term as Iowa’s governor, Terry Branstad told reporters he is starting a dialogue with state lawmakers on raising more revenue for transportation improvements.

Branstad also said recent declines in gasoline prices help make it easier to consider tax measures to boost the state’s road-use tax fund, although the AP said Branstad stressed he wants to move beyond the traditional fuel tax and is open to all options.

The Des Moines Register posted a video of excerpts from Branstad’s Nov. 6 comments, along with its story on his plan to pursue a transportation revenue package.

The governor said he is not proposing a specific set of revenue raisers, but wants to have discussions with legislative leaders.

“Here’s what my thought would be,” Branstad told reporters. “To share with them some of the ideas that Paul Trombino [director of the Iowa Department of Transportation] has put together for kind of a new system for funding our roads, and then ask for their feedback and their ideas. And see if together we can craft a bipartisan consensus,” with a goal of getting a majority of each legislative chamber’s party caucuses to support the final package.

Branstad said he would work with legislators on highway funding “with an open mind,” by offering some ideas and telling lawmakers “we are open to your ideas and then see if we can mesh those together” into a revenue package all parties helped shape.

As to how gas prices play into the revenue discussions, Branstad said: “I think the timing is good because gas prices have dropped significantly. I think it makes it a little more palatable to the public. You know, it’s been a very difficult issue for the General Assembly for some time, because we’ve had extremely high gas prices which you know is a real burden for low- and middle-income families.”

As to how the funding package could be built, Branstad suggested “trying to take a new approach – not just the old gas tax, but really looking at the whole funding formula for the road-use tax fund and see if we can come up with a more modern system, and one that will meet our needs for the long term.”

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