By Carolyn Kramer, manager, Transportation Investment Advocacy Center 

Idaho has become the fourth state this year to raise its gas tax. But the extra revenue, plus higher vehicle registration fees, still provides only 36 percent of the state’s projected annual shortfall for road and bridge work.

Idaho Governor Butch Otter (R) April 21 signed into law a bill to increase the state gas tax by 7 cents-per-gallon and raise vehicle registration and electric/hybrid car fees. Additionally, a “surplus eliminator” included in House Bill 312a would apportion half of any General Fund surplus for transportation in the next two fiscal years.

The gas tax and registration fee increases are anticipated to raise almost $95 million per year­— much less than the $262 million annual shortfall for state and local transportation needs.

In a transmittal letter sent to House Speaker Scott Bedke, Otter stated, “It [House Bill 312] represents compromise, concession and a realization that—in the face of apparent intransigence—something indeed is better than nothing. In fact, H 312 is a respectable start on a multi-year effort to provide for the long-term needs of our transportation infrastructure, including hundreds of bridges throughout Idaho that every day are reaching the end of their safe lifespans.”

Idaho joins IowaSouth Dakota and Utah in hiking state gas taxes to fund transportation work. In addition, Georgia’s legislature has also approved a state gas tax increase, which is awaiting approval from Governor Nathan Deal (R) before going into effect. Several states are also pushing to pass transportation funding measures before wrapping up their 2015 legislative sessions.