Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jack Hatch says “years of neglect” have left Iowa’s roads and bridges in terrible shape and it’s time to raise the state gas tax by 10 cents a gallon over the next five years.
Hatch proposes raising the gas tax by two-cents-a-gallon in each of the next five years. Hatch also proposes dedicating one-fifth of the state’s surplus to infrastructure projects like school upgrades, expanded broadband service in rural Iowa and rebuilt sewer and water systems. Hatch says his “Building a Better Iowa” Plan will address the state’s infrastructure deficit. Hatch says he’ll be able to sell this gas tax hike to Iowans because he’s also proposing an income tax cut for middle class Iowans.
Republican Governor Terry Bransad has indicated he would sign a gas tax hike into law, if legislators approved the move, but he has not openly advocated for it. Branstad’s D-O-T director recently circulated a list of ways to increase taxes and fees on Iowans for things like vehicle purchases and using off-road fuel rather than increasing the state gas tax. Hatch says it’s time for Branstad to quit trying to “cobble together” a plan and support an approach that deals with the problem of crumbling infrastructure.
Lowell Junkins, the Democrat who challenged Branstad’s first bid for reelection in 1986, proposed that the state borrow 400-million dollars to invest in infrastructure projects, prompting Branstad to call his opponent “Junk Bond Junkins.” In 2010, when Branstad successfully ran for a fifth term, he repeatedly blasted Democratic Governor Chet Culver’s I-JOBS program which saw the state borrow for infrastructure projects. Hatch says he’ll present the “big picture” to Iowans and that’s the way he’ll be able to sell his plan to the public. Iowa’s gas tax has not been raised since 1989.