Your Capitol Voice: Best legislators donít plan to make a career out of it by Bobby Kaufman, State Representative · Op-Ed · February 08, 2013
The process here at the Capitol has begun to speed up.
Several bills are making their way out of subcommittee and committee, with a debate and floor vote in the near future. A very important issue is the looming debate on the fuel tax. There are varying viewpoints on this issue, and I would like to know your opinion. Your opinions back home are always a driving force in my thoughts and on how I will vote.
The people who favor a fuel tax increase speak of the undeniable infrastructure issue that we have. Our roads and bridges are in need of serious work and attention.
There is a valid argument that out-of-state drivers use our roads, but donít necessarily help to pay for them. The fuel tax addresses this concern.
All of my Boards of Supervisors have spoken to me about the need for an increase, and my county engineers have made a passionate appeal to me for more dollars for roads. If we do go forward and pass a fuel tax increase, it is of great importance to me that the funds are constitutionally protected, so they go exclusively into the Road-Use Fund. The formula must remain the same. I will not support a proposal that redirects small town and rural dollars to large urban areas.
Those that oppose a fuel tax increase argue that gas prices are high enough and higher taxes on fuel disproportionately hurts people with low incomes. Estimates show that the average Iowan, depending on how much they drive, would see a yearly increase of $150-$200 in gasoline costs with a fuel tax increase. Another argument against the increase in the fuel tax is that the tax increase is simply a ďdrop in the bucketĒ when it comes to addressing our infrastructure. I agree that a serious discussion about broader reform and funding mechanisms is certainly needed.
A fuel tax bill has been filed, and includes an increase of ten cents over three years. For each penny of fuel tax, it is estimated to bring in $23 million in additional revenue. The excess dollars in the state treasury this year is not a solution. In some years these dollars do not even exist. You canít fund ongoing expenses with one-time unpredictable sources.
Constituents, what do you think?
As I continue to hold Listening Posts on the weekends, many of you bring up important points that I take with me to Des Moines. One topic that comes up repeatedly is education reform and funding. We are looking at those issues in subcommittee this week. Next week the discussion will go to full committee, and the following week will see a debate on this issue. Please continue to let me know your thoughts and ideas.
One unique bill I have co-sponsored is related to term limits. I will give you more details in a future column, but it is my inherent belief that the best legislators are the ones who do not make a career out of it. Being involved in the real world is an important component that I see too many politicians forget.
Listening Post Schedule: Saturday, Feb. 9 ó Mechanicsville Public Library at 9 a.m.; Tipton Farm Bureau, 1327 Cedar St., at 10:30 a.m.
Visitors to the Capitol: Mark and Gwen Prentice Ė Solon
You may contact Rep. Kaufmann at Bobby.Kaufmann@legis.iowa.gov, 563-260-3355 or 1527 330th St. Wilton, IA, 52778