Iowa governor refuses to raise gas tax to fund road projects

Gov. Chet Culver believes lawmakers should seek alternative funding sources

December 07, 2007

The Iowa Department of Transportation recently released a report calling for an additional $200 million annually for repair and maintenance of the state’s roads.

On Dec. 3, Iowa Gov. Chet Culver rejected the idea of increasing the state’s gasoline tax to fund road projects, citing high oil and gasoline prices.

The Associated General Contractors of Iowa, a road construction industry group, had proposed a 4-cents-per-gallon increase in gasoline taxes, plus higher fees for pickup trucks.

Culver, a Democrat, said lawmakers should look at alternatives to raising the gas tax.

“I’ve said all along that I don’t think it’s a good idea to raise the gas tax, especially when petroleum is at $100 a barrel. We’ve got record gas prices. From Day One, I’ve been very concerned about a raise in the gas tax,” Culver told reporters after a meeting with Democratic lawmakers.

The Iowa DOT report found a growing gap in the available money in a state fund used for road projects and an escalating list of what are deemed critical road projects.

Those projects include repairs of hundreds of structurally deficient bridges, mostly on county roads.