Special Report

Iowa wrestles with funding of infrastructure repairs

  

Iowa State Capitol in Des Moines

Iowa State Capitol in Des Moines

For each of the past several years, farm and commodity groups in Iowa have called for an increase in the state’s fuel tax to fund road and bridge repair in the state.  And they’re back for another round in 2014.

But the chairman of the Iowa Senate’s Agriculture Committee says he prefers that the dollars for infrastructure repair come out of the state’s general fund.  Joe Seng, who is a veterinarian from Davenport and former Mayor ProTem of that city—says a border city like Davenport would be hurt by a fuel tax increase.

Sen. Joe Seng

Sen. Joe Seng

“One of out of every five cars in our quick shops in Davenport pretty much are Illinois people.  We’re beating them on the gas tax—and we’re beating them on the cigarette tax,” says Seng. “On a border city, it’s sort of bad politics to want the tax because we get a lot of customers over the Mississippi river there.”

A bill calling for a 10-cent increase in the tax, spread out over three years, has been approved by a subcommittee in the Iowa House.  The Iowa Senate has yet to take any action and Seng says the fuel tax increase will be a tough sell in an election year.

Iowa’s fuel tax of 22 cents per gallon has not been raised in 24 years.  It’s estimated that a 10-cent increase would generate 230 million dollars annually. 

Infrastructure repair funding was one of several issues we covered in a recent interview with Seng.  Funding for Iowa’s Nutrient Reduction Strategy and property taxes were also discussed.

AUDIO: Joe Seng (10:27 MP3)

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