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Thursday, Dec. 12, 2013
How to cut up Iowa's credit cards for road repairsPosted Friday, September 9, 2011, at 3:51 PM
The Governor's Transportation 2020 Citizen's Advisory Council (CAC) caused quite a stir when they stopped by Buena Vista University Aug. 31 for their public input meeting, one of six to be held statewide.
I was rather astonished at how many attended the event, probably close to 100. Most city meetings I cover are lucky if they bring in four or five people to listen and give input.
Nearly half of the people who attended the CAC meeting took the time to prepare suggestions, carefully reading them to the CAC from neatly folded pieces of paper, some comments handwritten in old-fashioned cursive and others printed from a computer.
Some of my favorite comments came from the older crowd who were not part of city administration or businesses. Many were farmers with an attitude, not afraid to offer bold opinions.
They are the kind of guys who are the favorite grandpas who wear crisp button-down shirts tucked into immaculately ironed pants----or as my grandma would say, "slacks."
I cracked a smile when I heard these men talk, offering long-lost Depression era perspectives on the importance of saving and wise use of money
My favorite comments came from Buck Boekelman of Fort Dodge. Spiritedly, he told the committee that the state needs to "wise up" regarding increasing the gas tax. He had calculated that an extra 10 cent tax would cost him $60 a year. In his words, "beer and cigarette money."
He was one of the few who garnered chuckles from the audience following his comments.
That comment reminded me of my grandpa, who could calculate the cost of an individual roll of toilet paper in seconds, guaranteeing the best deal on bulk purchases.
I, unfortunately, did not inherit his math skills, but I can figure that a 10 cent increase is going to make the state a lot of extra money to help fund projects that have been on hold for too long.
It's time we cut up Iowa's credit cards and use cash revenue from a gas tax increase to fix roads.
There are other things the state can consider for additional funding. I spoke with my brother-in-law about it this past weekend, since he is someone who knows a bit more about the issue. He grows corn, soybeans and grapes, and experiences numerous issues echoed by farmers during the CAC meeting.
He agreed that it would be a good idea to raise registration fees on pickups and to pay license/registration for farm vehicles that would be traversing roadways.
As a major farmland owner, he pays a huge chunk of property taxes. A main concern he raised to me was making sure the tax dollars fund what they are supposed to fund.
Raising the gas tax is one issue; making sure it goes towards road repairs and not towards padding politicians' pockets is a completely different problem.
We do not want to repeat an embarrassing governmental shutdown like our neighbor to the north, who should change its slogan of "it's nice here" to "expect constant delays due to road repairs that we should have done ages ago." Among numerous other woes, they had to borrow $500 million for a road repair bond.
Because a penny saved is a penny earned, filling up our piggy bank now will help us to fix problems now before they become more costly issues.