We need better roads and bridges in Idaho to support and sustain our economy and our Idaho way of life. Transportation is the lifeblood of our economy and is necessary in order to move goods and people to and through our state. Our legislation, House Bill 342, is a comprehensive solution to invest in our future by investing in our transportation infrastructure. This legislation would meet the significant needs of the state and our local highway districts. It would ensure more funds go to critical transportation projects across Idaho, all without raising your taxes.

As chairs of the House and Senate transportation committees, we see every day the need to better maintain and expand our transportation infrastructure. As legislators, we hear from you about how you’re not satisfied with the way your tax dollars are being spent. And as drivers, we feel the literal bumps in the road telling us that more needs to be done to improve Idaho’s roads and bridges. This bill addresses these important needs.

We need to stress that this bill does not raise your taxes. Instead it uses sales tax already being collected and directs it to transportation projects. With our increasing reliance on e-commerce and home delivery, improvement in transportation infrastructure is essential for the economic prosperity Idaho continues to enjoy. For very large projects, the Idaho Transportation Department would have the opportunity to bond in order to leverage the funds. Though neither of us see bonding as the preferred method for financing transportation projects, it is unavoidable for some of the largest projects Idaho desperately needs. We don’t like paying for what we can’t afford, but with rates where they are, there is no better time to tackle these projects.

This legislation also allows for more local control. Highway districts, cities, and counties will now receive increased funds and can start work on the projects that solve transportation problems in their own backyards. Smaller districts can even pool money to build the bigger projects that are so essential. Leaders who are closest to their communities know what their needs are and are best suited to find ways to put these funds to work.

We all know that Idaho’s population is exploding. People are flocking here because of the conservative principles which make for such a high quality of life. To maintain that quality of life, we must manage growth by providing for smart investments in our infrastructure, especially transportation. This is an opportunity to capture funding so our growth can help pay for itself. Please help us to support this investment in our essential transportation needs by supporting House Bill 342.

By chairmen, Sen. Den Hartog and Rep. Joe Palmer.