With broad bipartisan votes, the Iowa House and Senate approved a bill raising Iowa’s gasoline tax by 10 cents a gallon.
The vote was 53 to 46 in the Republican-controlled House, and 28 to 21 in the Democratic-controlled Senate.
Opponents told of a flood of e-mails and letters urging a no vote. Indianola Republican Julian Garrett says because of Iowa’s formula for distributing road money, the new funds won’t reach much of rural Iowa where roads and bridges are in the worst shape.
“We're going to raise a couple hundred million dollars,” Garrett says, “and only one third of that money is going to go where we understand the need is.”
Lawmakers turned down amendments that would have phased the tax in and softened the impact for low-income Iowans. Allerton Republican Senator Amy Sinclair says the higher tax will hit her rural constituents hard.
“I represent some of the poorest counties in Iowa,” Sinclair says, “people who live paycheck to paycheck.”
Maquoketa Democrat Tod Bowman says Iowans are already paying higher taxes, because counties are borrowing money for road and bridge repair.
“This is a difficult issue but I don't take this issue lightly,” Bowman says.
Lawmakers say Governor Branstad is on board with the bill in its final form. The higher tax goes into effect the first day of the month after the governor signs the bill.